Saturday, October 24, 2015

Spicy Chicken and Caramelized Fennel over Basmati Rice

I love Blue Apron.  I've only had about one meal that missed the mark.  So,  if you never tried it,  I encourage it.  I get a 3 meal delivery about once a month, just to spice things up.... IN THE KITCHEN.  Dirty mind.  Each meal makes 2 meals each,  so if I don't share with Zach I end up with dinner and then a lunch for each meal.  Or two dinners,  depending on how likely it is I will have time to heat up lunch at work the next day.  These are not prepared meals,  so it does require some work on your part.  Everything is premeasured,  and allows you to actually cook.  This would be awesome for a novice cook.  

Last week on Blue Apron I had a lovely meal, similar to this one.  I made some changes to kick it up a notch,  like adding wine to make the sauce more of a Bordeaux then a vinegar based sauce.   The sauce I created is rich,  but yet still tangy due to the Sherry Vinegar.   Its' easy enough to make it as a prepped meal,  and delicious enough that you won't get tired of it.  The chicken is light and moist (gross word,  but I couldn't find a comparable word to suite this)  and the Fennel (or Anise) has a crunchy texture.  If you go to the grocery store and you see something similar to fennel,  but it says Anise-- same thing.  It all plays beautifully off the sticky rice.  

I'm a rice freak.  Mostly because it's healthier than pasta and allows me to get my carb macros during the week.   I stick to two main rices:  Basmati,  and Brown.   For this however,  I like the stickiness of the Basmati rice.  But,  my spidey senses tell me this would be awesome over a noodle as well.  Give that a try,  and let me know.    My recommendation is definitely for the Basmati.  

Spicy Chicken and Caramelized Fennel over Basmati Rice

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes (possibly less, possibly more depending on the rice you use)
Serves:  3-4

Rice of choice,  or pasta of choice
1- 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast
2 large Fennel Bulbs
2 White Onions
3 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup of Flour  
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1/2 cup Dry Red Wine
3 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Parsley Flakes, divided
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper for liberal seasoning

1.  Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Once done,  set aside covered to keep warm.

2.   While the rice is cooking,  heat a cast iron skillet (this works the best I've found for browning meat,  if you do not have one a nonstick pan would work fine) with 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium to high heat.

3.  While the cast iron is heating up (should take almost 5 minutes to be searing),   clean and prepare the chicken.  Discard any fat or tendons running throughout the chicken,  and cut into 3 inch cubs.
4.  Season WELL with salt and black pepper.

5.  In a zip lock bag,  add 1/4 cup of flour.  Throw the chicken in the bag and shake well coating each piece of chicken.

6.  With tongs,  remove the chicken chunks from the bag and shake off excess flour.  Place into heated skillet.  Discard excess flour.
7.  Allow chicken to brown on each side,  about 10 minutes for it to cook entirely. 
8.  While this is happening,  remove the top of the fennel and cut the bulb.  Remove any really thick pieces of bulb that are too fibrous to soften in the pan.  
9.  Cut the onion into rings and set aside with fennel.

10.  Once chicken is done,  remove to a plate and cover with tinfoil.  Allow additional oil or burnt bits to remain in the pan!!

11.  Reduce heat to medium low and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to pan,  and add onions and fennel.  Season with salt, pepper,  and tsp of red pepper flakes. 
12.  Allow to cook until caramelized,  stiring constantly for about 15- 20 minutes.  Add water to keep it from sticking if need be.

13.  While this is cooking,  finely dice the garlic and set aside.

14.  When the onions and fennel are just about done,  add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Make sure it doesn't burn,  so keep moving it around.  You will smell with the garlic is softened but not burnt.

15.   Once everything is cooked,  add the chicken back into your cast iron skillet.

16.  Add the following:  butter, water, wine,  sherry vinegar,  parsley.
17.  Allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes on high until the sauce is thickened and shiny.  The flour from the chicken will help to thicken it,  so that is an important step!  You could omit it and the wine to make this recipe Paleo,  but I don't recommend it.  I feel like you'd be changing the whole flavor profile if you did that.

18. Serve over starch of choice!