Roasted Chicken Thighs With Clementines
Adapted from Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi
A few quick notes, which I highly recommend you read: First, there’s no need to marinade overnight, but if you’re the sort of intrepid cook who really plans ahead (kudos to you) the dish will definitely benefit from it. Secondly, I gave both the arak and the non-arak versions of the dish. In my opinion, with deep respect to Chef Ottolenghi, I find arak (and its cousins) to be displeasing to the palate. Thirdly, there are some of you out there, and I was once one of you, who greatly dislike fennel. In making this, I was once out of fennel and made this with the equivalent amount of onions. I like both versions equally, but for the fennel-haters, the onions will work much better, while for the onion-haters (they exist), the fennel options will sound far more appealing. [metric measurements coming shortly!]
6 1/2 tablespoons arak, ouzo, or Pernod (I used fresh orange juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice (if using just orange juice, you need about 9 tablespoons or 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice), plus additional should you need more liquid
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons grain mustard
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
2 medium fennel bulbs (500 grams; 1 pound); also, okay to swap in onion for some of all of the fennel, if you can’t stand fennel
3 pounds (1.4 kg) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, or 1 (3-pound) chicken cut-up into pieces
4 clementines, unpeeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick circles
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 teaspoons fennel seeds, slightly crushed
Chopped flat-leaf parsley to garnish
1. In a large mixing bowl combine the arak, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper with 1/3 cup water.
2. Trim the fennel and halve each bulb lengthwise. Quarter each half so you have wedges and add fennel to the liquid along with the chicken pieces, clementine, thyme, and fennel seeds. Give everything a nice stir, so that the chicken is well-coated in the marinade, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. If you didn’t plan ahead and don’t have a few hours (or overnight) making this on the go works out beautifully.
3. Position the baking rack in the middle and heat the oven to 475 degrees F (220 degrees C). Divide the chicken and all the marinade and its components across 2 (9x13x2-inch) roasting pans, so that there is enough room to accommodate everything comfortably in a single layer. Make sure the chicken skin is facing up. Roast for about 35 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through. The edges of some of the clementines will start to look burnt. Check on the chicken about 25 minutes into the roasting process and if you think that the liquid is beginning to dry up add 1/4 cup more water (or use your judgment). When the chicken is done, remove from the oven, and transfer the chicken, fennel, and clementines to a platter, cover, and keep warm.
4. Pour the cooking liquid into a small saucepan, place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Simmer the sauce until it is reduced by one-third and is the consistency of syrup, about 7 minutes. You should be left with about 1/3 cup. If, by the time your pour the sauce, there’s already less than 1/3 cup, add a splash or orange juice to the saucepan, along with the caramelized crispy pan drippings, and bring to a simmer, reducing as instructed above. You want a thick, syrupy consistency. Pour the sauce over the chicken, fennel, and clementines, garnish with parsley, and serve.