Mrs Bailey’s Chicken Thighs with Fennel
Mrs B has been heard to describe fennel as her secret weapon. It’s so mildly aniseed that those girls who dislike the flavour really don’t notice it, and yet it breathes its subtle perfume into any dish it enhances, while at the same time providing as much body as its best friend the onion.
She uses it with a bold hand in a wide variety of recipes, but it does go particularly well with pork, and of course with chicken. This one’s a favourite: easy and undemanding of ingredients or skills, providing a perfect weeknight supper.
4 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
1 onion, sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Half a lemon
A few cloves of garlic, sliced
A slug of vermouth
A little chicken stock
Heat a cast iron skillet (for preference) over a high flame. When it’s hot, add a dash of olive oil and lay the chicken thighs in, skin side down.
Leave them alone for six or seven minutes, until the skin is darkly golden and deeply crisped. Remove the thighs and set them on a plate, skin side up.
Add the onion, fennel and garlic to the pan, and turn down the heat. Fry gently until caramelised. Add the vermouth to deglaze the pan, and swirl it into the vegetables; add enough chicken stock to cover the base of the pan. Juice the lemon half directly into the pan. Season with salt and pepper, then lay the chicken thighs on the bed of vegetables, skin side up, and add any accumulated juices from the plate.
Cover the pan, and leave it to stew gently until the chicken thighs are cooked through.
You can read more of Mrs Bailey’s recipes here:
The adventures of the Crater School girls for whom Mrs B cooks may be found here: