The kitchen should always remain the laboratory. Whether it is to reveal the essence of an earthy spice, the nutritional contribution of local legumes or simply to discover a new method of preparation, the cookery is where research and creativity marry in an unbridled dance. In the words of, the great Harvard Psychologist, Boring (yeah, pity of a name), “anyone who knows the difference between work and play doesn’t belong here”.
Such has been the case in the most recent weekly assignment from 1Common Plate at slurrpy.com; Chicken and Fennel. While fennel bulbs are a local favorite, I chose to focus on the aromatic fennel seed – less common but somewhat exotic. You see, it is not just the flavor or scent that creates its mysticism, rather it is also the lore of a 10th century charm which casts fennel into the magical.
The Nine Herbs Charm is part of the Lacnunga, a collection of Anglo-Saxon medical texts and prayers. In it, is a recipe for pulverizing nine herbs, the last of which is fennel, in order to alleviate poison and infections.
While the Anglo-Saxon deity, Woden, used the pulverized glory-twig of fennel in order to conquer snake bite, I chose to used the powdered element in order to conquer boy-hunger. The afflictions are often comparable in my home!
Chicken and Jerusalem Artichokes with Fennel Seed
- 1/2 pound Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), peeled
- 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 3 boneless, double chicken breasts, split
- 2 Tbs fennel seed
- 1 tsp black mustard seed
- sea salt
- black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp ground thyme
- 1/2 cup 1% milk
Peel the sunchokes and the garlic. Slice the garlic into halves and cut the sunchokes into halves or quarters. Set aside.
Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts. Place fennel seeds in a clean coffee grinder and pulverize. Add the mustard seed and grind until it is a coarse powder. Sprinkle ground spices over both sides of the chicken generously.
Place a large, deep, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Place chicken in the pan and quickly brown each side. Remove to a warming plate.
Add the vegetable broth to the skillet. Bring to a boil, stirring to loosen any browned bits. Add the sunchokes and garlic cloves. When sunchokes are almost tender, return the chicken together with any juices. Reduce heat and simmer about 25 minutes, until chicken and sunchokes are tender. Stir in milk and thyme. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. Return to a simmer to heat through.
Serve with brown basmati rice and green vegetables.
This post is part of 1CommonPlate at slurrpy.com.