Comforting Farmhouse Chicken Thighs with Fennel, Tarragon & Thyme

Nothing is more comforting or crowd-pleasing than roast chicken. Here, a marinade of aromatic herbs, lemon, garlic and a little white wine or sherry transforms golden thighs into a wonderfully flavourful, bright dish. This recipe is ideal for large family gatherings; the recipe is easily doubled or trebled and can be prepared and left to marinade in the fridge well in advance.

It is so easy to grow bee-friendly herbs at home, whether you have a large garden or just a tiny windowsill. Thyme is a great choice; it lasts for years without needing too much care and bees love it. Buy a plant from a garden centre or sow them from seed in April – simply plant in a 9cm pot filled with soil, cover with a plastic bag and wait until the seedlings emerge three weeks later. Once the first leaves appear, tip out the contents carefully, tease apart the roots with the tip of a knife and plant as many as you need, spaced 5cm apart, in a seed tray to grow on. Plant out in a sunny spot in May, spaced 10cm apart. After flowering, cut the plant back to help keep a compact shape.

Fennel requires a reasonable amount of space (they grow quite tall) and a permanent position so is better suited to a garden setting. If you grow fennel, allow your plants to complete their cycle. The bees love the flowers and will pollinate the plants, ensuring a good crop of seeds, which can be eaten while green and juicy, sown to create new plants next year, or stored when dried – everyone is a winner!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 organic chicken thighs
  • 250g new potatoes
  • 2 banana shallots, quartered
  • 1 bulb fennel, quartered
  • 5 large or 8 small cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ a lemon, cut into quarters
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 20g tarragon, stalks removed, leaves roughly chopped
  • 10 peppercorns
  • generous pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150ml dry white wine or sherry
  • 10g parsley, roughly chopped
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Method

Put the chicken thighs, new potatoes, banana shallots, fennel, garlic cloves, sliced lemon, thyme, half of the tarragon,  peppercorns, salt and olive oil into a large bowl and toss everything together. Cover and leave to marinade for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Tip the marinated ingredients into a baking tray and pour in 200ml of dry white wine or sherry. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft and golden and the chicken is cooked through.

Remove from the oven and stir through the remaining tarragon, parsley and lemon juice. Serve warm on a big platter with extra fresh herbs to garnish.

Recipe taken from Daylesford’s e-Book of summer eating and recipes.

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