Fennel is a vegetable I don't use often enough. I don't know why. It's crunchy raw and slightly sweet cooked. As a bonus it's high in vitamin C and it's a really good source of fiber, folate and potassium.
The breast halves are rubbed with the softened butter then seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides. You'll begin baking the breast halves skin-side down for 15 minutes
Then turn them over for another 15 minutes
Pile the fennel, apple and green onion mixture around the chicken
Pour the cream over the chicken then you'll cover the chicken with foil to roast for the remainder of the time.
I wondered what in the world that little dab of cream would contribute. Once the chicken, apples and fennel are removed from the pan you're left with a sauce that is both flavorful and light; and the cream was that ingredient that transformed the bland, ho-hum drippings to a smooth sauce that had been nicely flavored by the apples and fennel.
I initially considered the fennel and apples primarily as flavoring for this dish. It turned out to be a really good side dish. The recipe suggests that you can add lemon juice if you think the apples and fennel are too sweet. I did not find that to be the case this time.
Chicken was moist and flavored nicely by the apples and fennel. I put the sauce in individual small bowls to dip the chicken in.
Roast Chicken Breasts with Apples and Fennel
Adapted from Food in Good Season by Betty Fussell
4 bone-in chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp. salted butter, softened
salt and pepper
2 tart apples - 4 if they are small
2 green onions
1 large head fennel
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 small lemon (optional)
Mise en place:
- rinse chicken breasts and pat dry
- core, pare and thickly slice apples
- chop green onions
- trim fennel of outer layers, cut in half from root to top then slice crosswise thinly
Preheat oven to 450°.
Rub chicken breast halves with the softened butter. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Place chicken breasts skin side down in a baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the breast side up and roast for another 15 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, toss the apples, green onions and fennel. Pile this mixture around and over the chicken breasts. Pour the cream over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake 35 to 40 minutes until interior temperature of chicken is at least 185°F.
If the apples seem too sweet, add a squeeze of the lemon.