A few weeks ago, on her "Food Schmooze" program, Faith Middleton interviewed the "grand dame" of Italian cooking, Lidia Bastianich, about her new book, "Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master."
One of the recipes that Lidia described was a salad of fennel and gorgonzola. She talked about fennel as a vegetable that spans the seasons. She also pointed out some characteristics that make fennel one of our favorite vegetables: its crunch and its refreshing, licorice-like flavor.
As in Lidia's salad, fennel tastes great raw but cooking or roasting enhances its sweetness. We chose to pair sliced fennel with chunks of potatoes and carrots in a stove-top saute with chicken. This dish can be made with any kind of chicken parts, but we opted to cut up a whole chicken. To decrease cooking time, cut the chicken into parts as small as possible. A cleaver will make splitting the chicken into pieces a cinch.
CHICKEN AND FENNEL SAUTE
>>2 large red potatoes, cut into chunks
>>1 bulb fennel, thickly sliced
>>2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
>>½ of a large Vidalia onion, sliced
>>2 cloves garlic, crushed
>>1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoon olive oil
>>Juice of 1 lemon
>>1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or to taste
>>Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
>>1 3-pound chicken, cut into parts
>>1/2 cup chicken broth
Combine potatoes, fennel, carrots, onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add some of the feathery fennel fronds to the bowl. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil and lemon juice over the vegetables. Add rosemary and salt and pepper to taste, and mix to coat the vegetables with the oil mixture. Set aside.
Sprinkle the chicken parts with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken parts and cook on all sides until the chicken is well browned, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan to a plate and set aside.
Add the potato mixture to the pan, and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are browned and begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes. Return chicken to the pan, add the chicken broth and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4.