Onion and Fennel Braised Chicken with Brown Butter and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Onion and Fennel Braised Chicken with Brown Butter and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Onion and Fennel Braised Chicken with Brown Butter and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Slow cooked Sundays are pretty common around here, especially on days like today when a winter storm rages outside. There's nothing better than weathering out the storm on a relaxed afternoon while supper slowly cooks away in the oven, practically unattended. A pot roast or pulled pork are two of our family favorites but slow braised chicken is also a delicious choice.

Sweet onions are best for this dish because the higher natural sugar content lets them slowly soften and caramelize along with the aromatic anise-like flavor of the fennel. Chicken legs and thighs actually work best in this very simple recipe because they don't dry out in the long cooking time but if you are going to use chicken breasts, like in the photo, I recommend starting to braise the onions and fennel first for at least an hour before adding the browned bone-in chicken breasts for the last hour or so.

We often roast garlic to add to our mashed potatoes and on this occasion we also browned the butter that we added to them for an outstandingly delicious version of that side dish classic. Topped with the braised onions and fennel and the tender chicken, it really hits the spot for a cold weather comfort food meal.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Serves 4 - 6

  • 2 - 3 pounds of chicken thighs, well trimmed of excess fat and skin
  • salt and pepper to season the chicken
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken thighs on both sides. Remove the chicken and set aside.

To the skillet add:

  • 3 cloves roughly chopped garlic
  • 2 large white sweet onions, thinly sliced (Vidalia onions are a good choice)
  • 1/2 large fennel head, thinly sliced

Cook the onions, fennel and garlic for a few minutes until they begin to soften, then transfer them to a  covered dutch oven or medium sized roasting pan. To the pan add:

  • 1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
  • 4 springs fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tbsp dry thyme)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Toss together well, cover and cook in the oven for about 3 hours or until the onions and fennel have broken down completely and start to turn brown and the chicken thighs are fall apart tender. Serve the chicken with the braised onion and fennel over Brown Butter and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Brown Butter and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Roast the garlic for this recipe in the last hour that the chicken is in the oven.
  • 1/2 head garlic
Cut the half head of unpeeled garlic in half and place on a square of aluminum foil, cut side up. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle on a little olive oil. Bring all sides of the aluminum foil to the center and pinch together to seal. Place in the oven with the chicken for 45-60 minutes until fully softened and cooked.
  • 2 1/2 pounds of potatoes
Peel the potatoes and boil slowly in salted water until fully cooked.

To a small saucepan add:
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup butter (only real butter works here)
Melt over medium heat and continue to cook until all the water steams off the butter and the leftover milk solids in the butter start to go brown. At this point the butter begins to smell like caramel.

Mash the potatoes together until smooth with the roasted garlic and brown butter as well as a pinch of pepper to season. You can also add a little cream if you like for extra richness.

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