Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chicken with Fennel, Peppers & Orange

Chicken with Fennel, Peppers & Orange. A happy accident.
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered my fridge and freezer were absolutely overloaded. Think I told you all about it. Sometimes I just put food in the freezer as if dropping it into The Frozen Pit of No Return. Some things are planned to end up in there, like finding chops on sale, or shrimp on sale. Other things end up in there because our plans change, and dinner will not get cooked that night, so into the freezer go the ingredients. Those are the ones that get forgotten. Frostbitten sometimes, if I don't wrap well, thinking I'll use them in a couple of days. But I forget. So I have sadly had to toss out some lovely things that were destroyed by my freezer and my own laziness. Like lobster tail. Yep. I confess.

These chicken breasts were on sale at my local market about a month ago, and were calling my name from the depths of The Frozen Pit of No Return. So I looked into the fridge to see what else was lurking in there to use, too. I had a couple of fennel bulbs, some red bell peppers, some homegrown garlic, and some home - frozen leeks. And a bag of oranges.  Some leftover chablis. Bingo, my Southern Italian genes kicked into gear: Fennel and Oranges. Okay Sicilian...Dinner, nonetheless.

Let me just say, it was scrumptious. It'll still be scrumptious even if you actually go out and buy the ingredients fresh.

Note: We had this with polenta, but another gluten free choice would be rice. If you'd like this to be grain free, a white bean puree (cannellini beans pureed with garlic and olive oil) would be absolutely fabulous. And a salad...

Chicken with Fennel, Red Peppers & Orange
Serves 4

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 2 lb.)
1T extra virgin olive oil
sea or kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
2 small fennel bulbs, sliced
1 cup sliced leeks
3 garlic cloves, minced
zest from 1 large orange
juice from 1 large orange
1T Italian Seasoning
1 cup dry white wine or dry Vermouth
1 cup low sodium or unsalted chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil or spray a 2-3 quart baking dish. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts on both sides, and heat the oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. When it ripples or even smokes slightly, add the chicken breasts, and cook without moving them for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn the chicken and do the same to the second side.

Remove the chicken to a plate and add the peppers, fennel, leeks and garlic to the skillet. Sauté until the fennel and peppers are beginning to soften. Remove the vegetables to the baking dish, and nestle the chicken into the vegetables. To the skillet, add the orange juice, stock, wine, orange zest and Italian Serasoning. Grind in some black pepper, and add a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, scraping up any bits, and cook the liquid until reduced by about 1/3. Pour the liquid over the chicken in the baking dish.

Cover the dish tightly with foil or a lid, and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour to 1-1/4 hour.

Serve with polenta, rice or a white bean puree.

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