Sunday Dining: Roast chicken with fennel seeds, pancetta & capers; Baked fennel; Fried zucchini with almonds
Salty meaty juicy roast chicken, creamy cheesey baked fennel, sweet & nutty fried zucchini with almonds - the perfect Sunday night meal (particularly if your Saturday night was as heavy as ours on this occasion).
Roast chicken with fennel seeds, pancetta & capers
(From 'Daily Italian', Toby Puttock)
1 x 1.5kg (3 1/4lb) free-range chicken
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 glass white wine
2 tablespoons capers
100g (3 1/2oz) pancetta, sliced
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
a handful of safe leaves
a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
Preheat oven to 220*c (430*F). Rinse the chicken under cold water and pat dry with kitchen paper.
Put the fennel seeds, rosemary garlic and a pinch of salt into a mortar and pestle, and give the ingredients a good bash. Use a tablespoon or so of the olive oil to bind the ingredients as a paste, then rub the paste onto the chicken flesh.
Heat 2 tabelspoons of olive oil over a high heat in a large flameproof baking dish.
Put the chicken into the dish and brown on all sides. Add the wine and cook until nearly evaporated. Add the capers, pancetta, chilli, sage and parsley. Place the dish in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Make sure you baste the chicken during the cooking: the more liquid you reintroduce, the tenderer the meat will be. If the chicken appears to be drying out, add a little water.
Make sure you plate up all the goodness of the crisp pancetta/ capers/ herbs and serve this with the chicken (if any of it makes it out of the kitchen)!
Baked fennel with cream & parmesan
2 large or 4-5 small bulbs fennel
plain (all-purpose) flour for dusting
100g (3 1/2oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
150g (5oz) pancetta
4 tablespoons double cream
freshly ground black pepper
150g (5oz) freshly grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
Remove and discard the thick outer layers of the fennel. Cut the bulbs into 3cm (1 1/4in) slices - retain a bit of stalk at the end.
Place the fennel in the boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and pay dry with kitchen towel. Preheat the oven to 190*C (375*F).
Dust the fennel with flour. Melt half the butter in a large frying pan, then add the fennel. Cook over a medium heat.
Fried zucchini & almonds
4 medium zucchini, sliced into rounds about 2mm thick
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup blanched or flaked almonds (we usually use flaked)
2 tablespoons mint, finely sliced
freshly ground black pepper
Place zucchini in a colinder set aside for 10 minutes, then pat with paper towel.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan of over a medium-high heat. Add almonds and saute until they turn a peachy pink colour. Remove almonds from the pan and set aside. Add remaining oil and butter, then add zucchini and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and half the mint and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, until zucchini is almost cooked. Return the almonds to the pan, mix well, and cook for a further 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then garnish with the leftover mint to serve.
We served all this biz with a pear and rocket salad and some roast pumpkin slices to keep things fresh.
The ladies in the house take to the carve...
Soul restoring stuff.