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Braised Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Fennel

        For some bizarre reason, we have not one but two almost completely full bottles of Pernod in our liquor cabinet.  Pernod is that close cousin of Pastis, that liquid licorice that you drink quantities of whenever you’re in Provence and then never drink again when you come home.  The cause of our having two Pernods on hand was likely a recipe calling for a tablespoon of the stuff and not checking our supplies before heading to the liquor store.  Given my thrifty upbringing, it kills me not to be using it for something.  So the minute I saw Melissa Clark’s recipe for Chicken with Caramelized Fennel, which calls for, yes, a tablespoon of Pernod, I leapt into action.

       I love Fennel and at the Farmer’s Market in East Hampton, Sang Lee Farms,(www.sangleefarms.com) an organic farm on the North Fork, had gorgeous fennel bulbs with beautiful and highly aromatic fronds fully attached.  You could smell the anise everywhere in the kitchen when I brought them home.  This recipe was the first time that I’d cooked fennel the way Melissa does here.  Melissa, for those of you who don’t read the New York Times, is a highly inventive cook whose foraging in her refrigerator always yields wonderful, flavorful and easy to achieve recipes that I love to try.  Here, she slow cooks the fennel with some onions, then re-inforces the flavor with both fennel seeds and Pernod.  The chicken thighs are browned and then their cooking is continued atop a bed caramelized fennel, onion and Pernod.   The result would be one of the most monochromatic plates you’ve ever put on the table were it not for Melissa’s finishing touch: She purees the fronds with garlic, lemon zest and olive oil.  It not only adds color to the dish.  The garlic and lemon zest are a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the vegetables.  It takes all of 45 minutes to get this dinner on the table, much of it passive as you slowly caramelize the fennel and onions.  I added some roasted fingerling potatoes to our menu.  I guess I just like monochromatic plates.  

Here’s the recipe:

3 thoughts on “Braised Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Fennel”

  • Not wanting to purchase a bottle of Pernod (I'd run over & relieve you of one of your two… but – distance, you know!) What would be a good substitute?

    Your Montreal "bubbles".

  • The best thing to do is to go to the Liquor store and buy one of those airline-sized bottles of the stuff. It won't set you back much…as long as the QLC carries that size. Any pastis would likely work. Anisette, ouzo and there actually is non-alcoholic anise flavoring that you can find in spice stores and specialty markets. Enjoy!

  • Many thanks. Great suggestion. I keep forgetting about those small bottles.

    Made chic recipe this evening. YUM-YUM. Replaced Pernod by soaking anise seed in vodka.

    FYI: QLC – now known as SAQ

    Montreal "bubbles"

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