Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think in most households chicken is more often on the dining table than any other meal (unless of course your family is entirely vegetarian). I myself often prepare chicken for my husband and daughter who are not as enthusiastic about a plant-based diet as I am and I occasionally try some fancier version of the same old bird when we have family or friends over for dinner. So while I contemplated over this piece of white meat for the zillionth time, I realized that even though there are so very many different ways to prepare chicken I’ve developed a repetitive pattern: when I find or come up with a tasty recipe I stick with it for some time and prepare it a couple of times in a row. Then the family gets tired of it and demands other things. So I come up with something else, and if it turns out good you can be sure they’ll be having the same thing over and over again. I guess I should learn to let go of my favorite dishes more easily. Just breathe in, breathe out, and let go…
But here I am again as I think these caramelized shallots and fennels will become a recurrent feature for a couple of weeks now because yes, they were that good! And what a clever idea of me to do this mid-January when the main choices of fresh produce range from onions, potatoes, tubers (like Jerusalem artichokes) through fennel bulbs to citrus fruits!
So here I was eyeing this really blunt piece of chicken, a bit bored, a bit sad and sorry for not being able to provide more entertainment when ta-dah…I dressed it up in a most unexpected way! This chutney-like mixture of shallots and fennel turned the heat up in boring Chicken-land! Tender, buttery veggies turning sweet and nutty with the added brown sugar during the caramelization process, mixed with the tanginess of the orange zest and orange juice, plus the acidity of apple cider vinegar is a winning sweet ‘n sour combo! I obviously added a little pepperoncino in the pan because I can’t live without that, so I ended up with a more spicy chutney-like taste.
I will definitely try this now with turkey, pork and yes, more roasted chicken! For a vegetarian version why not try layering them thinly on your bruschetta or crackers, adding a sweet and sour twist to your snacks or starters. Bon appétit, everyone!
What you’ll need:
- 350g shallots (about 12 pieces), peeled but left whole, unless very large, in that case halve them lengthwise
- 1 medium bulb fennel
- 2 tbs good quality olive oil
- 2 tbs butter
- 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
- zest of an orange
- juice of an orange
- 1 large glass of water (3dl)
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- Himalaya salt and freshly ground pepper
- parsley and fennel tops
- 1 tsp chili powder or peperoncino (optional)
- a large spoonful of variety
What you’ll need to do:
- In a large pan heat the oil and butter on medium heat. Clean the shallots and trim the fennel. (Do not discard the herby fennel tops). Cut the fennel bulb into big chunks, halve larger shallots to ensure all pieces cook evenly. Add the shallots and the fennel to the pan, let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Now add the remaining ingredients, toss well, bring to a boil then reduce the heat and cook for about 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce is reduced to a syrup-like consistency and the shallots are tender.
- Check the seasoning if more salt or pepper is needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and the reserved fennel fronds. Serve alongside chicken, turkey or pork.