Healthy Fennel Chicken with Crispy Lemony Potatoes
I don’t see a lot of people eating fennel, perhaps that is just where I live. But I can’t remember ever growing up with it, and in fact I had never eaten the bulb of fennel up until recently. It has a mild liquorice flavour and fragrance, which is even milder when cooked, and works well with a number of dishes.
But even better than the taste is its nutritional value which is why it is listed in my happy foods.
Historically, used in Chinese medicine for a number of conditions, from congestion to conjunctivitis this little-used herb from the carrot family is packed full of lots of great vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C is probably one of the most important in Fennel, helping to rid the body of free radicals and inflammation in the body. It also contains dietary fibre helping to absorb water in the digestive tract, and helps eliminate carcinogens from the colon.
Fennel also contains manganese, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. One of the best things about fennel is that nothing goes to waste since you can use the whole, bulb, stalks and fronds (the feathery herb you see growing out from the ground, and what you can buy in packets at the supermarket). The fronds also contain pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin and thiamine.
Even more interestingly fennel contains a powerful flavonoid called ‘Anethole’ present in the oil of fennel. This may be a powerful agent to prevent cancer re-occurrence and prevents the activation of inflammation in the body.
In this recipe, I would adapt this to cut the fennel into smaller pieces, as I found them to be a little too large, but this is just a personal preference.
It goes really well with a side salad in the summer, or as a warming stew in the winter, tasty and delicious it is a very balanced dish with both protein and carbohydrate, definitely one to try. In the absence of fennel seeds, you can use cumin seeds on the potatoes if you can’t get hold of fennel seeds, as these also work out well.
Ingredients (oven gas 7, 220 degrees C, fan oven 200 C)
Takes approx. 1 hour
4 medium to large Chicken breasts
750g new potatoes with larger ones halved
1 tsp fennel seeds or cumin seeds
2tbsp of flour
1 lemon, juice and zest
3 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 and ½ fennel bulbs, with fronds reserved
175ml (6fl oz.) white wine or cider
300ml (1/2 pt.) chicken stock
75g (3 oz.) light soft cheese
handful of coriander for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 220 C, or 200 C if using a fan oven.
2. Toss the new potatoes in 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and add the fennel or cumin seeds, making sure they are all coated. Zest your lemon and add this zest to your potatoes.
3. Roast your potatoes for 40 minutes.
4. Coat your chicken pieces in 1 tbsp. of the flour.
5. Add 1 tbsp. of the olive oil to a griddle pan or other pan and heat the oil over a medium heat, being careful not to burn it.
6. Add the chicken to the pan, browning both sides to a golden brown, but not needing to cook through at this point. Place the chicken on a separate plate and set to one side.
7. Slice up the fennel bulb, as if slicing an onion, and remove the stalks and fronds and set these to one side. Cut the fennel either in chunky slices or thinly, depending on your preference.
8. Add the other 1 Tbsp. of olive oil to the pan you cooked the chicken in and add the sliced fennel bulbs. Fry the fennel for approx. 5 minutes, or shorter if sliced more thinly.
9. Scatter the other 1tbsp of flour over the fennel and ensure all the fennel is coated.
10. Stir in the wine and stock, and scrape any meaty brown but off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
11. Add the chicken to the fennel and reduce the heat to a low heat. Cover the dish and simmer for approx. 20 minutes.
12. After simmering, add the soft cheese and lemon juice, season and serve with the lemony potatoes and torn coriander to garnish on top. Season with black pepper. No salt is needed in my opinion to keep it healthier as there is salt in the stock.