Tomato Fennel Braised Chicken Thighs
I love the flavor boost that fennel gives to a great tomato sauce and when you slowly braise chicken thighs in that sauce to tender deliciousness, it
just gets even better. Although this recipe is slow cooked for up to a couple of hours the preparation is quite fast and fuss free. Other than browning the chicken thighs in a skillet, the only other work is chopping the tomatoes, garlic, fennel and onions to be added to the braising pan. These vegetables then cook to tender during the braising time and with a quick blitz in the food process or, as I do, in the pan with an immersion blender, they are transformed into a delicious sauce.
I’ve often been asked about the presence of brown sugar in many of my tomato sauce recipes. It is a tip that I learned from an Italian lady years ago to bring out the flavor of the natural sweetness in the tomatoes. A tablespoon or two per pot is all that’s needed to balance the sauce without making it actually sweet.
- 2-3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper to season chicken
- Flour for dredging chicken
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 6 large ripe tomatoes, diced (or 3 ½ cups diced canned tomatoes)
- ½ large bulb fennel (or one small bulb), diced small
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 1 large red onion diced
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp chili flakes (optional)
- 1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and then dredge them in plain flour.
- Brown the chicken thighs on both sides.
- Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock, making sure to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- In a covered roasting pan toss together the remaining ingredients except for the chicken stock.
- Add the browned chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and pour the chicken stock over everything.
- Cover and roast at 300 degrees F for about 1½ to 2 hours or until most of the liquid has cooked off and the chicken is tender and falling apart.
- To serve, you can either spoon the vegetables over rice or pasta or, if you prefer, process them slightly in a foods processor or, in the pan with an immersion blender, to make a sauce as is shown in the photo.