Baked chicken with tomato, sherry, fennel seeds, bay and olives
This recipe is inspired by a dish that a friend of mine used to cook when she worked in restaurants in Spain, basically chicken baked with dry sherry, olives and tomatoes. It was actually a staff meal - lucky staff! I have given the option of delicate poussin or chicken thighs. This is super easy for a midweek meal but also elegant enough for guests at the weekend.
Suitable for a mid-week dinner or easy entertaining: Pollo delle casa. Photo: Marcel Aucar
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6 to 8 bone-in chicken thighs OR 4 size 6 poussins, backbones removed and rib bones trimmed
extra virgin olive oil
salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
3 red onions, thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tbsp fennel seeds
600g ripe tomatoes, cut into large dice
150ml fino sherry
2 fresh bay leaves
250ml quality chicken stock (check gluten-free if required)
150g black or green olives, pitted
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional.
2. Rub the chicken thighs or poussins with oil and season them with salt and pepper.
3. Place a wide-based pot or deep frying pan over medium heat. Once it’s hot, sear the poultry for four minutes on each side until golden. Transfer them to a baking dish and nestle them in together, skin-side up.
4. Add a good three tablespoons of oil to the pan and add the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook for five minutes to soften. Add the fennel seeds and fry for a minute or two until they are fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for three minutes. Add the sherry and bay leaves and simmer for two minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.
5. Pour the contents of the pan over the chicken thighs or poussin. Scatter over the olives and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
6. Take the dish straight to the table and serve with a green salad and buttered rice pilaf.
1. You could also use chicken Marylands for this.
2. Scatter a handful of breadcrumbs over the dish just before it goes in the oven for a nice golden crust.
3. Instead of sherry, you could use a dry white, or even a red wine for a heartier dish.