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Braised Chicken with Fennel and Dried Figs

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Dried figs and fennel, both important ingredients in the cooking of the eastern Mediterranean region, are often paired in sweets like candies and cakes, but I take liberty with the combination and pair them in a simple braise of chicken. As they slowly cook, the dried figs absorb the heady chicken and fennel-laced broth, becoming juicy and succulent

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodbraising

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealdinner

Moodblue

Taste and Texturefruity, juicy, meaty, savory, sweet, winey

Ingredients

  • 1 fennel bulb (about 12 ounces)
  • 8 ounces dried Calimyrna figs (12 to 14 figs), stems trimmed
  • 1 whole chicken (about 3½ pounds), cut into 8 pieces, excess fat and skin trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium or 1 large leek, roots and green tops trimmed, soaked in warm water, rinsed thoroughly, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, bruised with a mortar and pestle or the side of a heavy knife
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Instructions

  1. Trim the stem end and the dark green tops from the fennel; reserve a few fronds for garnish. Cut the fennel bulb lengthwise into quarters; then cut across into 1-inch pieces. Chill in a bowl of iced water for 20 minutes; drain.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a small pan of water to a boil. Place the figs in a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand for 10 minutes. Drain, and cut the figs in half

  3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large deep skillet until sizzling. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes per side. As it browns, transfer the chicken to a side dish. Leave a thin film of oil in the bottom of the pan: discard any remaining oil.

  4. Add the fennel, leeks, and carrots to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the figs and fennel seeds to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the cut sides of the figs are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  5. Add the chicken broth and the wine and heat to a boil. Boil, uncovered, over high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken juices run clear when the flesh is pierced with a fork, about 15 minute.

  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, vegetables, and figs to a warmed serving platter; cover to keep warm. Boil the juices over high heat until reduced and slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the juices over the chicken; garnish with the reserved fennel fronds, and serve.

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