As I’ve said before, Yotam Ottolenghi can do no wrong. This is yet another recipe of his that is just amazing. This man knows flavor and how to bring it together in a way that seems fresh and new, but comforting. The unique combination of ingredients intrigued me, and I have to say this is one of the best chicken dishes I’ve eaten. The chicken was beautifully roasted, flavorful, and was quite possibly the moistest chicken I’ve had to date. Not to mention that this dish looks gorgeous when displayed on a large white platter. The clementines added a nice, bright touch. Since the peel is eaten, I would encourage you to get organic or unsprayed clementines. I also love pretty much anything with fennel. The original recipe called for the fennel to be cut in half, and then quartered, but I found that didn’t work perfectly for the final result. The chicken and clementines were roasted perfectly, but the fennel was still a bit tough. My advice would be to slice the fennel instead of quartering it, or roast it separately with possibly more time in the oven. We served this with plainly cooked bulgur (just some olive oil and salt added), but rice would also be a nice accompaniment.
6 ½ tablespoons arak, ouzo, or Pernod (I used ouzo)*
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons grain mustard
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced into ¼ “ slices
1 large organic or free-range chicken, divided into 8 pieces, or the same weight in skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
4 clementines, unpeeled and cut into ¼ “ thick slices
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)
Put the first six ingredients in a very large mixing bowl and add 2 ½ teaspoons salt and 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper. Whisk well and set aside.
Add the fennel to the liquid, along with the chicken pieces, clementine slices, thyme, and fennel seeds. Stir well with your hands, then pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish (that way everything can marinate evenly) cover tightly and leave to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of a few hours, or overnight. If you have time, marinated overnight is best!
Preheat the oven to 475. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer. The chicken skin should be facing up.
Once the oven is hot enough, put the pan in the oven and roast for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is nicely colored and cooked through. Remove from oven.
Lift the chicken, fennel, and clementines from the pan and arrange on a serving plate; cover and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and then simmer until the sauce is reduced by one-third, so you are left with about 1/3 cup. Pour the sauce over the chicken, garnish with some parsley and serve.
*Arak is a Levantine anise-flavored liquor. Ouzo is Greek although very similar to Arak. I had ouzo in the cabinet, so ouzo it was!
Wine paring suggestion: a vibrant, minerally Chablis