Chicken Braised with Leeks, Fennel, and Mushrooms

Hi, friends. I know I’ve been neglecting you (partly due to a lack of creative cooking, but mainly due to an awesome trip to Oklahoma for a friend’s wedding). But I’m back! And not only do I have a dinner recipe for you, but I have a few more recipes coming your way soon. Yipee!

The weather was wonky yesterday in SF. It was cold, it was warm, it was pouring rain, and it was sunny. All at the same time. How does it do it? Who knows. But the weird weather gave me inspiration to make something warm and fall-y. So I decided to braise chicken breasts with fennel, leeks, and mushrooms.

I also must say that I’m proud of myself. I cooked with anchovies last night! It was a first. And a last-minute idea, as I was already browning the chicken. I just thought to myself…what if? What if I do it? So I did it. And you know what? I could have even thrown a couple more fillets in. I can’t believe I just typed that. It also knocked something off my culinary Bucket List.

The anchovy tin! In pulling back that lid…I committed.

So let’s get down to it. The result was a rich, filling dish that made a fairly easy weeknight dinner that would also make for a great Sunday dinner.  I was quite pleased.

Awful picture, delicious grub.

Chicken Braised with Leeks, Fennel, and Mushrooms

What you need:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (though I only made two, I could have easily made 3-4)
  • 5 anchovy fillets (I actually could have even used a couple more), roughly chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
    • Tip: I used the slice blade in my food processor, which made my life a million times easier. You can also slice them on a mandoline if you have one.
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 16 oz mushrooms (I used crimini, but white would be fine), sliced
  • Fresh or dried thyme (I used about 6 sprigs’ worth; sub about a generous teaspoon dried)
  • ~1 1/2 c low sodium chicken stock
  • ~1 c white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Clean and rinse your chicken breasts, pat them dry, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large dutch oven (or a deep, ovenproof skillet) over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Brown the chicken on both sides, roughly 5 minutes a side (if you’re using 3-4 chicken breasts, brown two at a time so as to not crowd the pan).
  • Once the chicken is all browned up, pull the chicken out and put it aside on a plate. Add another tablespoon or so of olive oil and start to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the dutch oven.
  • Add your anchovy fillets and break them up in the oil with a wooden spoon/spatula until it has dissolved into the oil, about 1 minute.
  • Add in your fennel and a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook the fennel for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add in your leeks and cook for another few minutes, until the fennel is starting to brown and caramelize and the leeks are soft and starting to brown. (If you’re like me and got distracted, stuff might start sticking on the bottom and maybe burning juuust a little bit. Don’t worry, just add a little white wine and scrape that up before you add the rest).
  • Add in your mushrooms, thyme, and another and cook for a few minutes until the mushrooms start to brown.
  • At this point, add in your wine and stock, give everything a stir, then nestle your chicken breasts in the mixture (pour any juices from the plate in), submerging them completely.
  • Bring it all to a boil, cover and move to the oven, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
  • Optional: if you want a thicker sauce/gravy, pull chicken out and cover with foil on a plate and simmer the rest in the dutch oven for 5-10 minutes on the stovetop.

Seriously. I promise, even though you can’t tell from the picture, this was absolutely delicious. Why? Because you let everything hang out and cook for a while. Can’t go wrong with that. This was rich, meaty, and filling–perfect for a rainy night. I served it up with some easy roasted yukon gold potatoes (diced, tossed in olive oil, some herbs, salt & pepper, roasted about 30 minutes). Delicious and comforting.

Do it! 🙂

–Emily

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