Aired September 12, 2012
1 cup EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small bay leaf
1 small sprig rosemary
1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced, 2 tablespoons fronds finely chopped and reserved
1 small Meyer lemon or 1/2 organic lemon, sliced
Chicken or vegetable stock, optional
Reserved garlic infused EVOO
Reserved sweet garlic paste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Dijon
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped, plus additional for garnish
Sea salt and pepper
4 pieces boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 fresh Fresno chili, seeded and finely chopped or 1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
Scallions, thinly sliced on an angle, garnish
1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, charred on the grill or grill pan
1 ripe tomato
Place garlic cloves in a small pot, cover with the oil and add bay and rosemary. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat to low simmer and gently cook cloves to golden and sweet, about 18-20 minutes. Cool and remove bay and rosemary. Separate garlic from oil with a slotted spoon and paste. Reserve flavored oil. (Garlic confit is a quick path to the sweetness and tamed flavor of roasted garlic. Its great as a paste on toast, incorporated into sweet, fresh tomato and basil sauce, and as used here, as a base for a thick sauce and as the flavored oil base for a marinade for meat or fish.)
Cover sliced fennel and lemon slices with water (or chicken or vegetable stock), just enough to cover. Bring to a boil, simmer to very tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Add all the fennel and lemon slices to a blender, add 2 tablespoons garlic paste, the reserved fennel-lemon water, lemon juice, Dijon, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup reserved garlic oil, tarragon, salt and pepper, pure to form a smooth, thick sauce, reserve. Add a splash more water as necessary until just pourable.
Dress chicken with the garlic-infused oil, just enough to coat. Season the chicken with fennel seed, salt, pepper, chilies and thyme. Grill over medium to medium-high heat for about 12 minutes.
Slice chicken on angle, top with sauce and garnish with scallions, fennel fronds and tarragon. Slather charred bread with garlic paste and rub tomato into the bread. Cut into pieces and serve alongside chicken.