Braised chicken thighs with chickpeas and fennel recipe


Braising usually involves a large and often tough cut of meat. The slow cooking technique breaks down fat and connective tissue, turning the meat tender and allowing deep flavors to develop. But it’s also a great method for quicker-cooking proteins, such as rich, meaty chicken thighs. Since the chicken spends less time in the pot, we needed bold ingredients to replace the deep flavors that would otherwise come from slow cooking. We looked to the Mediterranean for inspiration: Vibrant lemon and briny olives added complexity, while fennel, with its lively licorice-like flavor, brought a soft but sturdy balance to the dish. To keep the cooking to a single pot, we browned the chicken in our Dutch oven and then set the meat aside while parcooking the fennel and aromatics. Chickpeas turned the dish into a complete meal; mashing a portion of them thickened the stew-y base. When braising chicken, we often remove the skin since it typically turns soggy. Here, however, we strategically placed the thighs on top of the chickpeas and fennel, elevating the skin just above the sauce so it could crisp in the oven. Keeping the pot uncovered also allowed the sauce to reduce slightly, deepening its flavors. Be sure to leave the core in the fennel so the wedges don’t fall apart. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, you may need to brown the chicken thighs in two batches rather than one.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes


  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed
  • 8 (5- to 7-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stalks discarded, bulb halved and cut into 8 wedges through core
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1½ tablespoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup pitted large brine-cured green olives, halved
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
How to Make It
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place ½ cup chickpeas in bowl and mash to coarse puree with potato masher; set aside.
  2. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place thighs, skin side down, in pot and cook until skin is crisped and well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer thighs, skin side up, to plate.
  3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Arrange fennel cut side down in pot and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Add garlic, lemon zest, coriander, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in olives, broth, honey, mashed chickpeas, lemon juice, and remaining whole chickpeas and bring to simmer. Nestle thighs into pot, adding any accumulated juices and keeping skin above surface of sauce. Transfer pot to oven and cook, uncovered, until fennel is tender and chicken registers 195 degrees, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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