Yield: 4 servings
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Fennel stalks, enough to cover a 9- by 9-inch baking dish and
fronds to cover chicken
¼ cup dry vermouth
Preheat oven to 425°.
Split fennel stalks lengthwise with a knife and arrange cut side up to cover the bottom of a 9- by 9-inch baking dish in a single layer.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and let it heat just to the smoking point. Add chicken, skin side down, and let brown, cooking until it releases from the skillet.
Turn and brown the other side.
Lay thighs skin side up on the fennel stalks.
Pour off fat from the browning skillet and, off heat, deglaze skillet with dry vermouth, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour these pan juices over the chicken. Drizzle chicken with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.
Lay fronds over chicken; then cover dish with foil. Place in preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear and the meat is loose on the bone. Discard fennel fronds and stalks*.
Place the chicken on a serving platter. Pour the cooking juices out of the baking dish, and spoon them over the chicken before serving.
Garnish the dish with extra fennel fronds.
*Unless you use only the smallest, most tender stalks, you really can’t eat them. You can purée the small, tender stalks and mix them in with mashed potatoes to go with chicken.
Bulb slices make a good base for the chicken dish, and they’re really tasty after the roasting is done since they’ve taken a slow bath in themeat drippings. You can serve them as a side or, as with the tender stalks, purée them and stir into a bowl of mashed potatoes. Personally, I’d just give the bulb slices a rough chop, though. If you use thick, tough stalks for the roast base, discard after using.