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Braised Chicken Legs With Fennel & Root Veggies

December 14, 2011

What’s up? It’s been a while, I KNOW. Things have been crazy. I’ve been adjusting to these major changes and I feel like I’ve finally found some footing so I’m here and cooking and ready to tell you all about it!

Last night at school we learned about different braising techniques, so today I was inspired to use the beautiful chicken legs we had from our Winter CSA @ Greensgrow Farm. They’re from local, pastured animals who weren’t administered antibiotics, hormones or GMO feed (the best kind!).

I found this recipe and since I already had most of the ingredients in the house, I went to town. I decided to omit the pancetta and added red-skinned potatoes instead.

First I pulled out all of the ingredients, washed the veggies and started to get my mise en place together. (In culinary speak, this means “everything in place” or prepping/cutting all of your ingredients so they are ready at a moment’s notice). Prepping all of your ingredients is time-consuming, but once it’s done things move along very quickly.

I started by adding about 2 Tbsp of olive oil to my Le Creuset Dutch oven and turning the heat up to medium-high. Cast-iron cooking vessels conduct heat differently than stainless steel- they take a while to heat up, but once hot, they KEEP heat for a while. Throughout cooking this recipe, I tried to be mindful of this and compensated to adjust the temperature accordingly. I also made sure that there was adequate levels of olive oil in the pan throughout the browning process.

First went the chicken legs with salt & pepper.

I browned them on one side, then the other. Once browned (but not cooked through) I transferred them to a plate.

Next went the potatoes & carrots and a tad more sea salt. In hindsight, since I reduced the amount of chicken in the original recipe and added more veggies instead, I think these root veggies would have browned quicker if seared separately. Anyway, I browned/softened them, then removed them.

Next I added the shallots & fennel and a little bit more olive oil. Once these softened and browned a little, I added the chopped garlic. (You have to be careful with garlic because it can burn easily, so make sure the pan isn’t too too hot.).

After about 2 minutes I added 2 cups of Sauvignon Blanc, the bouquet garnis, and scraped the bottom of the pan, removing the brown bits. I then added 3 cups of chicken broth and all of the cooked ingredients.

The whole concoction went into the oven for about 35 minutes. Once the chicken registered above 165 degrees on my thermometer, I fished out all of the solid ingredients with a slotted spoon. I put the Dutch oven on a high burner and reduced the liquid for about 20 minutes. After the liquid reduced, I added the lemon zest & sea salt, poured it over everything, topped it with chopped parsley and promptly DUG IN.

Post-cooking thoughts:

  1. Holy crap this smells amazing! Totally Autumn/Winter food. Great flavor!!!
  2. In hindsight, I should have used less liquid. Proper braising dictates the liquid be halfway up the food, but this dish was almost covered with liquid (shame on me, but I’m learning). The chicken ended up being a bit tough, but delicious none the less.
  3. The fennel, shallots and (especially) lemon zest are ESSENTIAL to this dish, don’t forget them!
  4. I should have cooked this for a shorter period of time. Again, maybe the chicken cooked faster because there was too much braising liquid, but I should have checked the temp after 25 minutes.
  5. Overall this was YUMMY and a great one-pot meal!
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rachealzara permalink
    December 19, 2011 5:10 am

    Super informative post. Loived learning right along with you.

    • December 19, 2011 12:17 pm

      Thanks! I debated blogging about this recipe because it didn’t come out *perfectly* but I think my trial and error will help all of you!

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