Going Ad-hoc at Home for the First Time

January 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Dinner | 15 Comments

Ned was uuuuuber excited to receive this cookbook for Christmas. It is so popular I think it still may be on backorder! Thomas Keller is a genius and this is a really good cookbook to have around. So this dish consisted of chicken thighs, green olives and fennel and a really nice broth/sauce! The chicken thigh is such an underutilized part of the bird in my opinion. Ned went to Whole Foods to get a pack of them with skin on. We are going to try to get a significant percentage of the meat we buy from Whole Foods from now on, because we really want to do our part in supporting the ethical and classically natural way of raising meat. But we’ll still be sticking to Wegmans for everything else!

So this chicken broth/sauce made in this recipe was just exquisite! TK really knows how to develop solid flavor in such a short amount of time and this recipe was the perfect way to use my new Le Creuset that I purchased with gift cards (Thank you Auntie Martha and Mrs.W!!!) After recopying the recipe below I am delighted to see how simple TK’s language is in the recipes. It really speaks to the true nature of ad-hoc: relaxed and at home for your loved ones. Now go check out this recipe!

We made the whole recipe so we had leftovers for 2 days!! Total key for us since Ned is now working on his thesis every night after he comes home from work.

3 large fennel bulb (we only used one, based on his 3 cups direction, but seriously use all 3!)
12 chicken thighs
kosher salt
canola oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup large green olives
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
4 strips lemon zest- removed with a veggie peeler
8 thyme sprigs
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley


Cut the fennel stalks. Trim the bottom of the bulbs and peel back the layers until you reach the core; reserve the core for another use. Discard any bruised layers, and the fennel into 1 by 1/2 inch batons. You need 3 cups for this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375. Set a cooling rack on a baking sheet.

Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt. Heat some canola oil in a large ovenproof saute pan (yay for le creuset!) that will hold all of the thighs in one layer over medium high heat (I used both of my dutch ovens to accomplish this single layer deal). Add the thighs skin side down and brown on the skin side about 4 minutes. Turn the thighs over and cook for about 1 minute to sear the meat. Transfer to the cooling rack.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion to the pan, and cook for 1.5 minutes Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the fennel, turn the heat up to medium, and cook, stirring often, until the fennel is crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

Pour in the wine and simmer for 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol. Stir in the olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest and thyme, then pour in the chicken stock. Increase the heat, bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook until the fennel is tender, about 1 minute.

Taste the stock and season with salt as needed. Return the chicken to the pan skin side up in a single layer. When the liquid returns to a boil, transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Turn on the broiler, and put the pan under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp and brown the chicken skin. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the parsley leaves.

Serves 6.


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  1. I’m seriously jealous of that Le Crueset! That’s one purchase i haven’t been able to justify, since I have a perfectly functional (but not pretty) dutch oven from target at home.

    It’s good to see the TK recipe. I read a profile of TK in the NYT one time, and it just really turned me off of him because he seemed very snooty–like home cooks couldn’t produce good food (I do think the profile was focused on his higher end restaurants). I’m glad to know this cookbook is more accesible, and now I sort of wish I had taken that review copy I was offered a few months back!

    • Oh no, TK really is the master. And I can’t believe you turned down a free copy of this book!! You crazy girl Beth! Go pick up a copy, I am sure you will like it.

  2. Elizabeth, for those of us who shun the olive, do you think capers would be a good substitute?

    Beth, I too have the Target dutch oven and while CI said it was a Best Buy, I notice that the enamel on mine is starting to chip after only two or three years of moderate use. How that’s a bargain, I don’t know. But the time’s going to come for it to be replaced and I’m more inclined to spend the $$$ on Le Crueset or Staub. I just have to find a way to make that happen without The Mistah going into sticker shock.

    • So hmm capers. Capers bring much more of a stronger flavor, but I bet it would be okay. Why don’t you like olives? texture? The subtle taste of the olive doesn’t compete with the sauce, so the caper might be a little off, but give it a try!

      • It’s both the flavor and texture of olives that turn me off. I’ve just never warmed to them. I guess that’s Kitchen Confession #3 for me.

      • interesting… I didn’t used to like them either, but the awesome saltiness just won me over. Maybe you should try them again?!?!

  3. Darker meet always carries so much more flavor. I’m rather jealous of your Le Crueset as well. You lucky gal! I’m so glad you have Ned, someone to share your love of food with. Can’t wait to meet him!

    • I can’t wait for you to meet him too! Boo we won’t see you on Friday… 😦 Have fun with your mamas birthday party!

  4. Yum Elizabeth, that looks great! I’ll have to try this some time, I love (the price of) chicken thighs and chicken, olives and lemon is right up my alley. xox

    • Thanks Kate! Yeah those cuts are definitely a good buy and that is what I am all about! Stretching the dollar and having a meal that lasts all week!

  5. Oh this looks fabulous! I love TK, so this recipe is now a must try!

    And fancy dutch ovens are always fun…I used my bf’s at least 3 times in the past 3 days…

    • Thanks Charli! 3 times in 3 days?? wow you are cooking away! Looks like theres an obvious birthday present to put on your list!

  6. I SO want this book!!

    I just printed this out. I am making it. I love fennel and olives and chicken thighs are my favorite chicken pieces.

    Oh, and great picture!

    • Thanks Julie!! You definitely need to get this book! Isn’t your birthday coming up soon?? 🙂

      I am so excited you are going to do the recipe! and thanks for the picture props. I think I figured out how to make them brighter right on my camera!

  7. I got this book for Christmas too. I been so busy at work I’ve really not had time to sit down and study it and make something. I agree with you. Chicken Thighs are so good and seem underused. This recipe looks very good.

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