Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken, Fennel, and Artichoke Fricassee

Continuing to be inspired by all of the spring recipes popping up everywhere, this dish here certainly caught my attention.  The crispy chicken, sauteed fennel and roasted artichokes were such delightful combinations for this dish.

 I know we're supposed to choose the healthier white meat option but I really don't think the dish would have been flavored so richly and aromatically if I had used boring chicken breasts.  The enticing crispiness of the chicken browning up on the stove top is just wrong but - oh, so right.  This is a definite do-again.  This dish is so full of delicious scents and beautiful spring colors, easy to prepare, and feeds a large group.  

I often go to the "Pioneer Woman" blog when I am overwhelmed with the homeschooling world we have chosen.  

I  immediately identify with Pioneer Women's  "homeschool" anecdotes.  I love her tongue-in-cheek approach to this very demanding of roles.  I gleen inspiration from her on days when I am scratching my head and seriously asking myself "why, Why, WHY?" did we choose this homeschooling path.  

We are crawling along to the end of our school year with all of the typical "burn-out" sentiments of our friends who attend public and private schools.  Taking long walks with my husband is definitely therapeutic.  On weekends, we leash up an always eager Chester and take off towards the nearby lake.  We walk along this gorgeous wall bursting with honeysuckle and become intoxicated with the heady perfumed air.  

Now that our children are called "teens", it is wonderful that they can "weigh in" on our schooling decisions with opinions and wishes of their own.  They have classes in a small private school here in Texas where they take their science and math courses with groups of other kids. 

However, when we hit a rare day when we truly "homeschool" and the day is filled with deeper conversations, rich documentaries, and quiet study for hours, that is when they tell me how much they appreciate our decision.  

They understand the importance of working in groups, volunteering by giving presentations at the museum, answering to the deadlines of teachers.  "Yes, Mom, stop trying to socialize us. We're over-socialized!  Can't we just have a few more days of  "down time?" is often the request I am asked.  

It saddens me to see that their world has become a hectic frenzy of deadlines, exams, packed social schedules, and concerns about grades.  That is the reality of our world though, isn't it?  Yes, it is.

I can mostly offer comfort in family dishes relished, time shared at the table exploring world happenings, and musings about the many "what-ifs" of the future. 

As we all watch the events unfold this week, from the merriment and festivities of the Royal Wedding in London, to the dramatic killing of a man deemed to be responsible for attacks on our country, we wonder and reflect on the emotive images and sounds that we hear this week.

However, as Patrick and I take our long walks around our home, in one of the most diversely populated cities we have seen outside of NYC, what we see around us is a universal human desire for time spent together, enjoyment of beauty through nature, and yearning for a better world for our children.  It never fails to utterly amaze me when I watch the myriad of international families living in our neighborhood interact with their children.  

Playfulness, Joy, Hope, and Love are the common threads of sentiment that I see.  Am I mistaken?  Watch any family interacting with their children.  Is that not love personified?  


1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (Snippets Notes: I chose all thighs and legs)
Course salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch wedges, 1/4 cup fronds reserved
1 can (15 oz) water-packed whole artichokes, drained
1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 425ยบ.  Season chicken with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.  Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Brown chicken on all sides, 8 to 10 min.  Transfer to a plate.  Pour off all but 1 TBS fat.  Reduce heat to medium-high.  Brown fennel wedges, artichokes, and onion in skillet, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 min. (Breathe in this incredible aroma!)

Return chicken to skillet. Add stock.  Transfer to oven.  Braise until cooked through, 18 to 20 min.  Transfer chicken and vegetables to a platter.  Reduce braising liquid over high heat to about 1/3 cup.  Stir in vinegar.  Pour sauce over chicken, and top with fennel fronds and parsley.


  1. That chicken looks very delicious, a very thought provoking post you have written.

  2. your pictures are beautiful! its amazing what a nice quiet walk can do for you!

  3. Dear Sarah, I seldom read a long post. Yours took me from one paragraph to the next. You are amazing!
    When are you going to publish a cookbook?

  4. The recipe sounds simple and delicious. Your calendar sounds very full but I am sure it's wonderful that you get to take long walks with your husband. I am sure they are more than therapuetic.

  5. Love your family thoughts. And this recipe is right up my alley - and my husband LOVES artichokes to boot!! Love your beautiful photos from your walk!!

  6. There's always something yummy cooking when I come over to your lovely space. It's so good to see you!
    What a wonderful thing you are doing for your children. Their lives are definitely enriched because of it, and they will carry this with them long into their adulthood.
    What a lovely place to green and soft and peaceful and quiet....I wish I could teleport myself there so I could look around a little more!

  7. First of all the chicken looks amazingly delicious, I can't wait to try it. Secondly, I hear you on the pressure of "grades" my kids are coming to the end of the school year and it's finals - everyone is stressed out and I hate it!

  8. Beautiful photos, and that chicken looks fabulous. I have not had that combination of ingredients before. I admire your efforts at homeschooling. I homeschooled my children for part of grade school, but then I had to go to work and that changed. My children are grown now, but there are fond memories of homeschooling, both on my part and theirs.


  9. Love the photos! This dish looks fabulous!

  10. Penni,

    Read your Blog and congratulate you on the openess and fresh thinking you bring to this informative piece. You have a wonderful mind and I am very proud of your artistic flair and writing ability - you are an artist. Keep up the photography - it is in the Benton genes. Look forward to your future messages. Love you, Dad

  11. Hello again! As soon as I saw your comment this morning, I wanted to reply to it, but you have it set to no reply! So I came over wish you a most happy Happy Birthday!! And to say congratulations! What wonderful news delivered to you on a most perfect day. I'm so excited for you!! xoxo

  12. I'm so glad to have found your blog - it is beautiful! And this, what incredible flavors. The pictures are lovely as well, they jump right off the page!

  13. Dear Sarah - What a wonderful post and a real insight into what we go through as parents :) This chicken is marvelous - honest, pure and plain delicious!

    I love everything about it.

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors


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