When I think about our little family, I always dream in food.
I dream of birthday cakes with many layers, decorated with sprinkles and candles.
I dream of make your own pizza parties and family movie nights.
I dream of sleeping in late and being woken by the smell of warm syrup and the sounds of children laughing in the kitchen.
I’ve got a couple of years to go before the Sunday dinners around the table dream can come true. The little man still likes to eat and run – well, eat and dance really – and the baby is still, well, a baby.
So dinners are eaten in shifts, or after the kiddos have gone to bed, but always together with the hubby at least. Talking and sharing and dreaming together.
This is one of the meals we shared just last weekend when we were filled to the brim with every citrus we could find at the farmer’s market. Our bags were heavy but our spirits were high as we planned and dreamt up menus for everything citrus on our way home.
Dinner came together in a matter of minutes – browned chicken breast layered on top of crispy fennel and tangy orange wedges, with a smattering of castelvetrano olives and the pan sauce poured over the top of everything. Into the oven it went and the house smelled pretty dreamy almost immediately.
This is just a simple roasted chicken dish really – but it never fails to bring everyone to the table. One of these days that will include the two small kiddos, but until then, more for me and the hubs.
roasted chicken with citrus, fennel and olives
4 skin-on, boneless chicken breasts
1 medium sized fennel bulb, with fronds
1 cara cara orange
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives (I use these)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons finely minced fennel fronds
3 tablespoons cream or butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the fronds from the fennel bulb and set aside. Wedge the fennel bulb into eight pieces, lengthwise and keeping the core intact. Wedge the orange into eight pieces as well, and place both the fennel and the oranges wedges into a 9 x 11 inch oven-proof baking dish.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the garlic, orange juice and fennel fronds. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and set aside.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and set aside. Place a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pot on a burner over high heat and pour about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the pot. Once the oil becomes hot, turn the heat to medium-high and carefully place each chicken breast into the oil, skin side down. Allow the chicken the brown evenly, rotating the chicken in the pan if needed. Once the skin is brown, remove the chicken from the skillet and place into the baking dish on top of the fennel and with the skin side up.
In the skillet over medium-high heat, add the garlic-citrus mixture and stir, scraping the skillet to remove any browned chicken from the bottom. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Whisk in the cream (or butter, if using) and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle the olive over the top. Place the baking dish into the oven and bake until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven when the chicken reaches 160 degrees on a thermometer. Serve immediately.
my notes: Make sure to serve this dish with something that can sop of the delicious sauce – cous cous, rice or quinoa would be great. This recipe can easily be doubled if you are serving a crowd and can be completely assembled the day before and stored in the fridge overnight – just bring it to room temperature before placing it in the oven.