BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH FENNEL & OLIVES
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 whole chicken legs, thighs and drumsticks separated (if you have them, use the wings too!), or approximately 1-1.5 lbs thighs
1/2 packet of LMC Poultry Dry Brine or 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
4 large shallots, pealed and halved lengthwise
1 large fennel bulb, cored and roughly chopped (larger pieces are good for braising)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of white wine
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of fresh tarragon
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup whole pitted or roughly chopped Castelvetrano or Kalamata olives
1/2 cup of sun gold or cherry tomatoes (sun gold tomatoes are a Fall seasonal variety in California)
2 tablespoons of butter (divided into x2 pieces and kept cold)
Salt to taste (approximately 1 teaspoon)
Zest of one orange and fresh tarragon leaves to garnish
Preheat oven to 325°.
Dry the skin of the chicken with a paper towel and season chicken with the Dry Brine or Kosher Salt.
In a cast-iron pan or heavy bottomed skillet, heat the oil until it shimmers and caramelize the skin of the chicken for a few minutes on each side. Remove from pan when golden brown and set aside.
On medium heat sauté the shallots and fennel in the oil for a few minutes, then add the minced garlic. Sauté until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Add the white wine, bay leaves, and herbs and reduce until the wine is almost gone.
Add the stock, olives and the chicken legs. Settle the legs into the skillet or pan so that they are almost submerged and bring the ingredients to a low simmer.
After the chicken has been brought to a simmer, place uncovered in the oven for approximately 40 minutes to 1 hour or until the the chicken can easily be pulled from the bone.
When the chicken is “falling off the bone tender”, gently lift out of the broth and place in a warm spot or on a warm serving plate.
While the chicken cools, add the tomatoes to the braising liquid and simmer the braising liquid on the stove until only about a 3/4 of a cup of liquid remains.
When the liquid is reduced, whisk in the butter one tablespoon (chunk) at a time until the butter is incorporated and the sauce is slightly thickened. Throughly mix to incorporate and add salt to taste (optional).
Serve the braised chicken on a warm platter and garnish with the braising liquid, orange zest and tarragon leaves. If you’d like to spread out the portion a bit, you can pick the chicken from the bone and serve it spooned over ancient grains, rice or quinoa.