From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I fortunately live in an area where fennel is plentiful and inexpensive. That makes it possible to prepare this dish without having to surrender a king's ransom. Truth be told, I like this riff on bouillabaisse so much that I would probably make it even if I had to pay an exorbitant prices for the fennel. The stew is easy to make and I know those of you who give it a try it will be smitten. Here's what I had to say when it first appeared on One Perfect Bite.
Fall is wonderful in its abundance. In a scant few weeks prices will again begin to rise, but for now, the fruits and vegetables with which I love to cook are affordable and encourage generosity in the kitchen. Once our first rains fall, I put away the recipes of summer and replace them with those that speak to cooler weather. It's time for robust soups and stews and casseroles. It is especially time for bouillabaisse. Most of us think of bouillabaisse as a heady Mediterranean stew that's made with fish and served with grilled bread and thickened with rouille, a red pepper mayonnaise. Julia Child and Patricia Wells both take the elements of that classic bouillabaise, but replace the fish with chicken and make what they call a "bouillabaisse de poulet." The results are delicious, perfect for family and friends who enjoy checkered tablecloth fare. The dish should be assembled a full 24 hours before serving. It takes that long for the flavors of the Pernod and fennel to permeate the chicken. The good news is that all the work is done the day before the dish is cooked and you really are free to enjoy the company of your family and friends. Like many old French recipes, this one, designated peasant fare, requires the purse of a prince to assemble. Pernod, fennel bulbs and saffron come dear, but they are absolutely necessary for the success of this dish. For what it's worth, this is one of my ten favorite meals. If you decide to make this, your mindset must be "in for a penny, in for a pound." You will not regret it. Here's the recipe. Bon appetit!
Bouillabaisse de Poulet...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by Marie-Louise Auteli and Patricia Wells
4 tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 large onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 large fennel bulbs with feathery leaves attached, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Pernod or other licorice-flavored aperitif
Generous pinch of saffron
Small handful of fresh thyme, or several teaspoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken legs with thighs attached, skin removed
1 pound waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups chicken broth
1) One full day before serving, combine tomatoes, onions, garlic, fennel, olive oil, Pernod, saffron, herbs, and seasonings in a nonreactive large covered casserole or Dutch oven. Stir to blend. Add chicken and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to blend seasonings.
2) One hour before cooking, remove chicken from refrigerator. Stew chicken in its marinade, covered, over medium heat, stirring from time to time, for about 30 minutes. Add potatoes and chicken broth and simmer until potatoes are cooked, an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve in warmed shallow soup bowls. Yield: 4 servings.
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