Roast Chicken with Fennel

I never – NEVER – buy chicken with the skin on. Boneless skinless chicken breasts all the way over here. But that’s not because I think it’s better sans skin. It’s just because it’s healthier. But lock me in a room with a rotisserie chicken and I’ll do unspeakable things. The skin is where the flavor’s at. I decided to break my rule for the Oscars because I love making a themed menu and I’d take a lil fat for the sake of the meal. When I learned Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) was the first woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director for a debut film, I knew I had to honor her…plus her name is almost identical to a prominent ingredient. It was meant to be. I followed this recipe and it came out beautifully.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and layer sliced fennel (1-2 bulbs, depending on size) in the bottom of a baking dish. Drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Roast the fennel for 10 minutes before adding one cut up chicken, skin side up, and drizzling with a bit more olive oil. (I used 4 thighs since it was just two of us.) HOT TIP: The chicken should cover the fennel and your fennel should be sliced on the thicker side. It’s getting roasted for a while at high heat and I was not so careful so mine burned a bit (still tasted good though because I like that caramalizy crispy stuff). Roast for 15 minutes, spoon the pan drippings back over the chicken, turn the pan, and roast for another 15 minutes. When it’s done, sprinkle fresh chopped parsley over the whole thing, and squeeze some lemon juice on there, adding the lemon wedges to the dish for serving. [I served with rice that I mixed with butter, garlic powder, and dried oregano.]

The fat from the chicken skin will render out a bit, mixing with the oil and juices released by the fennel making for a delicious little sauce. Leave no bit of those pan sauces behind when you’re eating this meal. I didn’t realize til writing up this post that this recipe was really only two ingredients: chicken and fennel. Wow. Sure, the lemon and parsley help out, but you get so much flavor from the chicken and fennel alone. Real workhorses, those ingredients. I’ll continue to make my boneless skinless chicken for the most part but boy oh boy there’s something special about that browned skin.