Chicken with Fennel and Tomatoes

I have a painful relationship with this dish. I love it first and foremost, above all other sweet and savory recipes I’ve made, and it is by far the BEST meal I have ever created (rather: duplicated?) in my life. Ever.

Chicken with Fennel and Tomatoes also happens to be the first recipe I have made without my boyfriend around to enjoy since he moved down from Canada last year. Go figure.

My favorite canuck returned to Ontario in March to attend a 9-month program at Liaison College. You may be wondering why he is not the one running this site, but you’d have to ask him. For someone with far more experience than me in the kitchen, my Canadian boy is surprisingly willing to sit back and let me destroy otherwise foolproof recipes.

..but I know what you are really interested in is this:

Chicken with Fennel and Tomatoes (from America’s Test Kitchen: Cooking for Two)


For the Marinade and Chicken…

1/3    C     EVOO

1               shallot, minced

2       T     water

2       T     chopped fresh basil

4              garlic cloves, minced

½      t      salt

pinch of pepper

2   12 oz.   bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts; split and trimmed

For the Vegetable Base…

1            fennel bulb; stalks removed, halved, cored, and sliced thin

6    oz.   cherry tomatoes (~ 1 cup)

¼    C   pitted kalamata olives

¼    t     salt

pinch of pepper

1     T     juice from 1 lemon (save leftover slices for later)

2    T     fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Begin by mixing up the marinade: whisk together all of the ingredients, except the chicken, in a bowl until well combined. Reserve ¼ cup of marinade for later. Pour the remaining marinade into a large zipper-lock bag, add the chicken, seal the bag tightly, and toss to coat. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 24. If marinating the chicken for longer than 1 hour, be sure to refrigerate the reserved marinade as well – returning it to room temperature before using.
  2. Move oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large bowl, combine 1 T of the reserved marinade with fennel, tomatoes, olives, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer veggies to an 8-inch square baking dish.
  3. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and lay them, skin-side up, on top of the veggies. Discard any marinade left in the bag. Bake the dish until the thickest part of the breasts reaches 160 – 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 35 – 45 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the lemon juice into the remaining 3 T reserved marinade.
  4. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving platter along with all juices. Pour the lemon-marinade mix over the chicken and let it rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

Beezer’s Notes:

I’m not sure what else I can say about this recipe except that it is the best chicken recipe ever invented **UPDATE: correction, THIS is the best chicken recipe ever invented; however Chicken with Fennel and Tomatoes is a close second and well worth your time! Granted, you probably do have to like the taste of fennel (in other words, a light anise or licorice flavor), but with only that one caveat this dish is perfect.

The fennel itself has only a light suggestion of flavor after cooking, but lends a nice soft crunch to the juicy chicken. Since the chicken is bone-in/skin-on it retains far more moisture and the meat nearly falls of the bone for you. Now, with the addition of olives, tomatoes, lemon, and basil the entire dish takes on a Mediterranean flare. I made some cauliflower and dill mashed potatoes as a side and did nothing else but enjoy each and every bite of this dinner until the plate was clean. I don’t even remember if I stopped for a drink, haha.

Overall Enjoyment: ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

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