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Playing Italian Roast Chicken with Fennel


  • 6 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large bulbs fennel, cut into 6 wedges each
  • 2 large onions, peeled (root end kept intact) and cut into 6 wedges each
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted fennel seed
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed away from skins
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 to 10 sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes or 2 small dried chili peppers
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon onion flakes or dehydrated onion
  • 1 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for passing
  • Warm crusty bread, for passing


Serves: 6


Preheat oven to 425°F.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. 

Toss fresh fennel and onions with olive oil to dress lightly and arrange in roasting pan or casserole dish.
Use a food processor to pulse-grind the fennel seed, garlic, herbs, chili pepper, lemon zest and onion flakes. Dress the chicken with seasoning and set on top of the fennel and onions. Roast 45-50 minutes then transfer everything to a warm platter.

Place roasting pan on the stove over medium heat. Whisk up pan juices with vermouth or wine, reduce by about half, whisk in the butter then finish with lemon juice. Pour over chicken, fennel and onions. Pass extra wedges of lemon and warm crusty bread for mopping.