Everyday Food (November 2009)
Over the past week, we read Tom Colicchio's pre-Top Chef cookbook, Think Like a Chef.
We love the structure of Colicchio's book. Rather than divide his recipes by meat or season, he starts out the book with a focus on techniques (roasting, braising and so on), showing how each tactic can be applied to different proteins or vegetables.
From Techniques, he transitions into Studies, showing, for example, how to roast tomatoes and then use that ingredient in a variety of dishes.
But the next section, about Trilogies, really got our attention. Here, Colicchio focuses on three trilogies -- asparagus, ramps & morels; lobster, peas and pasta; and duck, root vegetables, and apples -- and then shows many ways that trilogy can be applied in the kitchen.
Asparagus, ramps & morels, for instance, become a ragout, a ravioli, a custard and the accompaniments to both a braised fish and a roasted poussin. It's an interesting approach for a cookbook, and really lets you see how the chef thinks about building dishes, so that you, too, can "think" "like" "a" "chef" (see what he did there??).
All that got us thinking about about another trilogy we loved.
No, not Lord of the Rings.
It was this recipe from Everyday Food for Baked Chicken with Fennel and Apples.
As far as recipes go, it doesn't get much simpler than this. Roast chicken with shallots, sage and fennel. Toward the end, toss in some sliced apples. Serve.
That's pretty much it. It's the perfect kind of recipe for an easy weeknight meal. Will it blow your socks off? Maybe not, but the comforting combination of chicken, caramelized fennel and apples is wonderfully satisfying.
One thing we especially liked about this recipe is its use of fennel. We've had a crush on this ingredient since making Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel Wedges. (If you haven't made that yet, get thee to a grocery!). Rather than seek out other fennel recipes, we've just made this pork over and over (seriously, you need to make the pork). So we're glad to have another go-to fennel recipe.
If you like the Baked Chicken with Fennel and Apples, pick up Think Like a Chef and give some other trilogies a try.
And if you don't, well, there's always Star Wars.
(This photo: Everyday Food)
In this one-dish dinner, fennel and apple are roasted until caramelized and tender.
Prep: 10 minute
Total: 1 hour
• 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 pounds), cut into 8 pieces and breasts halved crosswise
• 2 fennel bulbs, fronds removed, bulbs cut into 1-inch wedges
• 4 shallots, halved lengthwise
• 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• Coarse salt and ground pepper
• 2 Gala or Fuji apples, cored and quartered
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. On two rimmed baking sheets, arrange chicken, fennel, shallots, and sage. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar and drizzle over chicken and vegetables. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Roast 35 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Add apples to sheets and roast until fennel is browned and chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes more.