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Chicken Traybake With Bitter Orange and Fennel

by . Featured in SIMPLY NIGELLA
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Introduction

I don’t think I could say how often I’ve made this since settling into my new kitchen. Not that I’m ashamed of being repetitive – I find that comforting – but I’ve simply cooked it too often to count. This, as it cooks, fills your kitchen with its gentle anise and citrus scent, working as well in midwinter with in-season Seville oranges as it does in summer with eating oranges, their sweetness soured by lemon.

I always get the chicken in its marinade a day ahead, but if you don’t have time, an hour would be fine (out of the fridge, but in a cool place) so long as you start off with good chicken. If you can afford good organic chicken, buy it. It is this chicken that provides a strong natural “gravy”, and the other reasons to do so are even more compelling.

I don’t think I could say how often I’ve made this since settling into my new kitchen. Not that I’m ashamed of being repetitive – I find that comforting – but I’ve simply cooked it too often to count. This, as it cooks, fills your kitchen with its gentle anise and citrus scent, working as well in midwinter with in-season Seville oranges as it does in summer with eating oranges, their sweetness soured by lemon.

I always get the chicken in its marinade a day ahead, but if you don’t have time, an hour would be fine (out of the fridge, but in a cool place) so long as you start off with good chicken. If you can afford good organic chicken, buy it. It is this chicken that provides a strong natural “gravy”, and the other reasons to do so are even more compelling.

Chicken Traybake With Bitter Orange and Fennel
Photo by Keiko Oikawa

Ingredients

Serves: 6

Metric Cups
  • 2 large bulbs fennel (approx. 1kg/2 1/4lbs total, though less wouldn't matter)
  • 100 millilitres cold-pressed rapeseed oil (or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on the chicken when cooking)
  • 2 seville oranges (zested and juiced, or zest and juice of 1 eating orange and juice of 1 lemon, about 100ml /scant half cup of juice)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 4 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 12 chicken thighs with skin and bone still on (preferably organic)
  • 2 large bulbs fennel (approx. 1kg/2 1/4lbs total, though less wouldn't matter)
  • 7 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil (or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on the chicken when cooking)
  • 2 seville oranges (zested and juiced, or zest and juice of 1 eating orange and juice of 1 lemon, about 100ml /scant half cup of juice)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 4 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 12 chicken thighs with skin and bone still on (preferably organic)

Method

  1. Remove the fronds from the fennel and put them in a resealable bag in the fridge for serving. I discard (that’s to say, eat) the tubey bits of the fennel, but if you have a roasting tin big enough, use everything. Cut the bulbs of fennel into quarters and then cut each quarter, lengthways, into 3. Leave on the chopping board while you get on with the marinade.
  2. Placing a large freezer bag in position inside a wide-necked measuring jug or similar, pour in the oil, add the orange zest and juice (and lemon juice, if using), and spoon in the salt, fennel seeds and mustard. Stir briefly to mix.
  3. Remove the bag from the jug and, holding it up, add a quarter of the chicken pieces, followed by a quarter of the fennel pieces, and so on until everything’s been used up.
  4. Seal the bag tightly at the top, lay the bag in something like a lasagne dish and squelch it about so that you make the small amount of marinade cover as much of the chicken as possible. It will look as if it isn’t enough, but it is, I promise. Leave in the fridge overnight or up to 1 day.
  5. When you want to cook, remove the marinating chicken and fennel from the fridge and tip the contents of the bag – marinade and all – into a large shallow roasting tin (I use a tin that measures 46 x 34cm with a lip of 1.5cm/half-sheet pan with a lip of ½ inch). Using tongs, or whatever implement(s) you prefer, arrange the chicken pieces so that they are sitting, skin-side up, on top of the fennel. Leave it for 30 minutes or so, to come up to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6/400ºF.
  6. Drizzle some more golden oil onto the chicken, and cook in the oven for 1 hour, by which time the fennel will be soft and the chicken cooked through and bronzed on top.
  7. Put the chicken and fennel onto a warmed serving plate and put the pan over a medium heat (use a saucepan if your tin isn’t hob-friendly) and boil the juices, stirring as you watch it turn syrupy; this should take about 1½–2 minutes in the tin, and about 5 in a saucepan.
  8. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and fennel, and then tear over the reserved fennel fronds.
  1. Remove the fronds from the fennel and put them in a resealable bag in the fridge for serving. I discard (that’s to say, eat) the tubey bits of the fennel, but if you have a roasting tin big enough, use everything. Cut the bulbs of fennel into quarters and then cut each quarter, lengthways, into 3. Leave on the chopping board while you get on with the marinade.
  2. Placing a large freezer bag in position inside a wide-necked measuring jug or similar, pour in the oil, add the orange zest and juice (and lemon juice, if using), and spoon in the salt, fennel seeds and mustard. Stir briefly to mix.
  3. Remove the bag from the jug and, holding it up, add a quarter of the chicken pieces, followed by a quarter of the fennel pieces, and so on until everything’s been used up.
  4. Seal the bag tightly at the top, lay the bag in something like a lasagne dish and squelch it about so that you make the small amount of marinade cover as much of the chicken as possible. It will look as if it isn’t enough, but it is, I promise. Leave in the fridge overnight or up to 1 day.
  5. When you want to cook, remove the marinating chicken and fennel from the fridge and tip the contents of the bag – marinade and all – into a large shallow roasting tin (I use a tin that measures 46 x 34cm with a lip of 1.5cm/half-sheet pan with a lip of ½ inch). Using tongs, or whatever implement(s) you prefer, arrange the chicken pieces so that they are sitting, skin-side up, on top of the fennel. Leave it for 30 minutes or so, to come up to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6/400ºF.
  6. Drizzle some more golden oil onto the chicken, and cook in the oven for 1 hour, by which time the fennel will be soft and the chicken cooked through and bronzed on top.
  7. Put the chicken and fennel onto a warmed serving plate and put the pan over a medium heat (use a saucepan if your tin isn’t hob-friendly) and boil the juices, stirring as you watch it turn syrupy; this should take about 1½–2 minutes in the tin, and about 5 in a saucepan.
  8. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and fennel, and then tear over the reserved fennel fronds.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The chicken can be marinated 1 day ahead. Store in fridge until needed.

STORE NOTE: Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The chicken can be marinated 1 day ahead. Store in fridge until needed.

STORE NOTE: Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in fridge for up to 3 days.

Tell us what you think

What 7 Others have said

  • Delicious.... even with my error! Will definitely make again!!

    Posted by Mandym3687 on 27th October 2017
  • I have this marinating at the moment. I accidently used horseradish instead of mustard. I hope it works out ok.....

    Posted by Mandym3687 on 26th October 2017
  • I made this for the first time, but definitely not the last! it was fantastic. So flavourful. Though, I think I might crush the fennel seeds a bit next time. Thanks Nigella!

    Posted by Karritt on 25th September 2017
  • I made this today with whole chicken thighs, and it was gorgeous!!! :) Everyone loved it, and I couldn't get enough of the mmm's from the other diners :) Thank you so much for your recipies Mrs. Lawson. Much love from Denmark

    Posted by MortenDK on 29th January 2017
  • Truely a lovely recipe.

    Posted by sago on 7th February 2016
  • Made this last night and it was great! The only thing I "tweaked" was the pan juice reduction; in spite of having used the sour orange (and zest), the reduction was good but a little bland so I added a couple of tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and reduced it a bit further - perfect! As always, thanks for another inspired recipe - I will definitely make this again.

    Posted by chefmike on 24th January 2016
  • Truly the best chicken dish ever! Thank you Nigella!

    Posted by tom-zg on 3rd February 2016
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