- some thought the chicken was dry and lacked flavor
- overall monochromatic presentation
- orange segments and fennel had wilted down into mush
- overcooked fennel lost it’s characteristic flavor (and as someone who isn’t completely sure I “know” fennel, I personally really wanted to be able to taste it)
- a strong citrus flavor that didn’t seem to tie in
After a lot of searching, clicking, and saving, Epicuriousdelivered an intriguing recipe that I could work with. A Moroccan-style tagine that combined artichokes and carrots along with fennel – perfect. A hearty spice mixture and citrus zest instead of juice – wonderful. Just a few changes needed to be made:
- Adding the vegetables later in the process to reduce cooking time (I didn’t want a repeat of that veggie-mush-mess!)
- Swapping out individual spices for my homemade ras al hanout
- Adding olives, because we all loved those last time
- Reducing the amount of oil – the amount called for was just unnecessary
Finally, I decided to ditch the word “tagine” since we wouldn’t actually be using one.
Are you still wondering how this is going to tie into Passover? Well, for the trial run of this new dish, I invited my parents over for dinner. I served the braised chicken and vegetables along with a spiced-raisin quinoa. The chicken thighs were tender and full of flavor and well-complimented by the crisp-tender vegetables and spices. My father may have even discovered a new favorite vegetable in fennel. And my mother quickly decided that this dish should most definitely appear at her Seder instead of her typical turkey. So there you have it – a meal which started as a catering job, turned into a learning opportunity, and will soon end up as a new family favorite.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, sliced (about 100gm)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel (from about 2 lemons)
1 1/2 tablespoons ras al hanout
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
about 3 cups fat free, reduced sodium chicken broth
3 medium-sized fresh artichokes*
1 large fresh fennel bulb
4 small carrots(about 7oz)
1/4 lb green olives, sliced in half
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven. When hot, add the onions and cook for about 8 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, lemon zest, ras al hanout, and 3 tablespoons each of the parsley and mint (save the rest for garnishing.) Cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Add 4 of them to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Transfer to the bowl with the onion mixture. Cook remaining chicken thighs in the same way, with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, and transfer to bowl.
Add chicken broth to the dutch oven, increase heat, and scrape with a wooden spoon to loosen all of the browned bits. Return chicken and onion mixture to pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes while you prepare the remaining vegetables.
To prepare the artichokes, first set out a bowl of water and squeeze lemon juice into it. Working with one artichoke at a time, trim the base to 1/2 an inch. Peel off all of the tough, darker green leaves to expose the more tender, lighter leaves inside. Trim about 1 inch from the top. Halve the artichoke lengthwise, and scoop out the hairy choke and discard. Cut in each half in half lengthwise again, and transfer to the bowl of water.
Trim the fennel bulb. Cut in quarters and slice the core away, then thinly slice the fennel. Peel the carrots and dice them.
Note: To prepare this dish ahead of time, follow the recipe through to this point, simmering your chicken until cooked through. You can chop all of the vegetables too, just make sure to leave the cut artichokes in a bowl of water with some lemon juice in the refrigerator. Let the dutch oven cool down and transfer to the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, place the dutch oven back on the stove top, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue with adding the vegetables and simmering.
Add the vegetables to the dutch oven. Cook, covered, about 10 minutes. Add the olives and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so. The artichokes should be tender and the fennel will still be slightly crisp.
Serve garnished with the reserved mint and parsley.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 31.7 g
Cholesterol: 180.0 mg
Sodium: 1,182.3 mg
Total Carbs: 26.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 11.5 g
Protein: 44.2 g
* A note about the artichokes: Make sure you really remove all of the dark outer leaves. If they are cooked in the dish, they will remain tough, although the center heart will still be tender and tasty so you can just pick the them away. If you can find baby artichokes, they would be perfect in this meal. They lack the whole inner choke, so they are much quicker to prepare, and more tender. And if you don’t want to deal with fresh artichokes at all, canned artichoke hearts would be perfectly acceptable too.