Recipe: Friday Night Chicken

(slightly adapted from the recipe for “Grand-Mere’s Friday Night Chicken” in the book, The Gown, by Jennifer Robson)

This recipe as printed in the book, The Gown, is pretty perfect. I just made it a little bit bigger to feed my hungry boys (her version serves 4 and mine serves 6-8). They devoured it! (See my review of this book.)

NOTE: I browned the chicken in my large iron skillet but did not think it would all fit for the final baking step in the oven so I transferred everything to a large casserole dish (also mentioned in the recipe below as one option). I poured most of the fat from browning the chicken out, but I did include about a tablespoon of it plus the yummy brown bits that I scraped from the bottom of the skillet and poured over the chicken before baking.

Ingredients:

  • 10 chicken thighs
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup prunes, pitted and halved
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Position rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a vegetable peeler, zest the orange in long strips; aim for 8 strips of zest with no white showing. Once zest is removed, halve the orange and juice. You’ll need 2 tablespoons juice at least; set aside zest and juice. Crush the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or with the flat bottom of a drinking glass. Set aside.

Trim excess fat and skin from chicken thighs. Pat the chicken dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet, ideally cast iron, over medium-high heat. (See below if you don’t have an oven-safe skillet.) Add the chicken to the skillet (in batches, if necessary) skin side down and cook until skin is well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Tilt the skillet and spoon off all but one tablespoon of the fat. Turn the chicken skin side up, sprinkle the prunes, olives, and fennel seeds around and over the pieces, and tuck the strips of orange zest in between the chicken pieces. Pour the orange juice and wine over everything and sprinkle with an additional ½ teaspoon pepper. (If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, transfer the browned chicken to a casserole dish, pour off excess fat, scrape remaining drippings into casserole dish, and proceed with remaining ingredients.)

Transfer the skillet or casserole dish to the oven and roast until cooked through (chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F), 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad.

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Serves 6-8

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