I’m sorry I’ve been a bit absent.
It’s the end of the school year for the children, and it seems I’m on campus every day for some activity, outing or celebration. It’s been difficult finding time to cook anything particularly interesting, and even when I do, I’m usually rushing to get food on the table and simply can’t manage to snap a photo or two to share with you. (And no one wants a recipe without a photo!)
Even though the children will be home with me every day for the next two months, the slower pace will hopefully allow me to post more regularly.
But back to the dish at hand…I’ll admit this dish might seem more appropriate for cooler autumn months, but I’ve made it twice recently and I think it’s delicious in any season. Maybe I’m also romanticizing France–where we’ll be going later this summer. I love French food for its simplicity and for the memories it brings back to me of many a meal, slowly enjoyed (pre-kids!) late in the evening on the banquet seat of a Parisian bistro. (Now that we have children, I feel as though all our meals are taken at 5:30pm, when most people are still at work.) For me, simple chicken dishes, Pernod and endive are unmistakably French, and I love how they combine here. The dish feels hearty without feeling heavy, and it’s a cinch to prepare. I love fennel and endive year-round, so if these two often overlooked pale green vegetables are available where you live, why not combine them in this surprisingly sophisticated, simple to prepare dish.
4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh) or 8 leg and and thigh pieces (about 2 lb)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh-ground pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced (reserve some fronds for garnish)
4 heads Belgian endive, washed, trimmed and cut lengthwise into quarters
1-2 shallots, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup Pernod or good white wine*
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
*I think the Pernod really boosts the anise/licorice flavor of the fennel and adds more depth to the dish, but you can use white wine if you don’t have any Pernod available.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron or other heavy, oven-safe frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add chicken in a single layer, skin side down, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook the second side until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain most of the oil from the pan.
While the oven is heating, return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the Pernod or wine and broth, and stir, scraping up any browned bits. Add the chicken. Sprinkle the fennel, endive and shallot. Drizzle the remaining tbsp of oil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid, pour in the cream and place the pan in the oven. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables begin to caramelize and the mixture has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on a large platter and finish with a sprinkling of parsley and reserved fennel fronds.