Sunday, 14 March 2010

What to Cook This Sunday

Chicken Braised with Lemon, Fennel & Black Olives

Sweet onion and salty olives balance tart lemon in this practical, make-ahead chicken dish (to serve a larger group, double the recipe and use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish). If Meyer lemons are available, they are an excellent choice; just omit the sugar.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour 50 minutes

To make ahead: The dish will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Couscous.
Degree of difficulty: Moderate

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
11/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 3 pieces each
1 large fennel bulb
1 large onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

1. Whisk 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper in a 71/2-by-11-inch (2-quart) glass or ceramic baking dish. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours.

2. Meanwhile, trim stalks from fennel, reserving the lacy greens for garnish. Slice the fennel bulb lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Lay slices flat and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slivers. Peel onion, cut in half lengthwise and slice.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add fennel and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. (You may need to add a little water to prevent scorching.) Add wine, broth and the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice; bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in olives. Spoon this mixture over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake until the chicken is cooked through and the fennel is very tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
4. Finely chop enough of the fennel fronds to make 2 tablespoons. Combine with the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon zest; sprinkle over the chicken before serving.
Makes 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each.
Per serving: 291 calories; 15 g total fat (2 g sat, 7 g mono); 106 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 27 g protein; 3 g fiber; 412 mg sodium.

Ingredient note: Oil-cured olives are cured with salt rather than a brine, then rubbed with olive oil. They can be identified by their wrinkled skins.

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