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Braised Sicilian Chicken with Tomatoes and Fennel

By Cheryl Forberg, RD

Braising... you may be unsure that you know what this culinary term means; but if you cook a moderate amount, chances are that you’ve braised before. Braising uses large pieces of meat or poultry that are cooked with wine, broth, and/or a sauce, but they’re not completely immersed in liquid. Think pot roast with potatoes and root vegetables or Beef Bourguignon. Stewing on the other hand, is similar, but this method immerses a variety of uniformly cut, sometimes bite-sized ingredients in a sauce and simmers them to tenderize and blend flavors. Think Beef Stew. Either way – both cooking methods are low and slow – cooked at low temperatures for a long period of time.

Most of us tend to use the outdoor barbecue less frequently now, when the temperatures are plummeting. We welcome the heat emanating from our dinner simmering on the stove. There’s also something so comforting about the aromas of a roast chicken or pot roast wafting through the house on a chilly night. That’s why I think of braising when I think about fall.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, simple is usually better, as long as we start with great ingredients. This is one of my favorite fall dishes. I hope it will become one of yours too.

Serves 4


Ingredients for Braised Sicilian Chicken with Tomatoes and Fennel

Olive oil
4 medium skinless chicken breasts or thighs (I prefer to use bone-in for braising) (about 1 ½ pounds)
3/4 cup chicken broth divided
¼ cup White Wine
2 tablespoons Pine Nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons Raisins or Currants (soaked in ¼ cup warm water)
2 anchovies chopped
1 tablespoon chopped capers
½ ounce chopped salami or ham (prosciutto)
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1-pound (about 5) San Marzano (or Roma) tomatoes, seeds removed and roughly chopped
Salt and Pepper

For the vegetables:
½ head Cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium Fennel Bulb cut into thick julienne (reserve fennel fronds for garnish)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Instructions for the chicken:

In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces, top side down. Season with salt and pepper. Brown for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan and reserve.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the ¼ cup of the broth and wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce slightly.

Add the ¼ cup of the broth and wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce slightly. Add pine nuts, currants, anchovies, capers, salami and chili flakes. Simmer for two minutes until ingredients are fragrant. Add tomatoes to the pan and the remaining ½ cup chicken stock. Stir well. Add chicken pieces, browned side up, to pan and spoon sauce over top. Braise in preheat oven for 20 minutes or until chicken is tender.

For the vegetables:

Place vegetables on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place vegetables on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Place vegetables in preheated oven and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring several times. Vegetables should be tender and slightly browned.

To serve:

Divide the vegetables between 4 dinner plates. Top vegetables with a piece of chicken. Check sauce for seasoning. Ladle hot sauce over the chicken, garnish with fennel fronds and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.
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