Chicken with Fennel and Lentils

Instead of getting feet of snow, we’re supposed to get about 26 hours of solid rain, starting tomorrow afternoon. Days before Christmas and they’re issuing flood watches. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about this. On the one hand, I love a huge snowstorm that closes down the eastern seaboard. A cozy fire, bread baking in the oven, a pot of soup on the stove… On the other hand, if the electricity goes out, we have a freezing Nonna in the house with no Law and Order to watch. I think I’m going to be rooting for the rain, this winter.

It’s 39°F outside, right now. That’s barely 4°C for the civilized world.

I still don’t get why the US refused to go metric when the rest of the world did. We sell liquor and soda by liters, medicine is in milligrams, auto parts are all metric, food nutrition labels are metric, we do 5k runs… but millimeters and centimeters instead of inches?!? quelle horreur!

Watching TV shows like the British Bake-Off or Rory O’Connell in Ireland is fun because they’re not produced for the American audience. They speak in grams and Celsius – and I’m getting pretty good at knowing what they’re about. Most of my artisan and sourdough bread recipes are measured in grams and we do have a digital scale to measure things out. I buy Italian flour in kilogram bags. While I am a product of cups and ounces and gallons, liters and milliliters are not difficult to grasp – and I’m sure today’s techno-savvy youth would have no problems at all switching over.

It could happen…

All that because it’s unseasonably warm outside.

There’s still a chill in the air – 39°F/4°C is not exactly beach weather – so something in the oven warming up the house is not a bad thing. And when it includes lentils, it’s definitely a good thing. I used the French lentils du puy for this, but brown lentils would work just fine.

Chicken with Fennel and Lentils

  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks. diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups lentils du puy
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp Sambuca
  • 1/2 tsp French herbs
  • 1/2 tsp fennel pollen
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Lightly brown chicken thighs. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion, garlic, celery carrot, fennel, and fennel seeds to pan. Cook until onions are wilted and vegetables begin to brown.

Add chicken back to pan. Add lentils.

Stir in broth, salt, pepper, and French herbs.

Bring to a boil, cover, and place in a 300°F oven for about 45-50 minutes  – until lentils are cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Stir in Sambuca and sprinkle with fennel pollen.

The Sambuca helped to highlight the licorice flavor of the fennel without making an overpowering presence. You only need a bit – don’t go crazy with it. The dish is full of flavor, the chicken is literally fall-off-the-bone, and there’s tons of texture from the carrots, celery, and fennel.

All-in-all, a successful meal!