I very rarely use my oven’s broiler. Last time was most likely to brown the cheesy topping on French Onion Soup. But a few weeks back I came across an article in the New York Times food section that made me give it a second thought.
It’s a great alternative to grilling. You toss your meat and veg and any other ingredients in the pan and essentially have a one-dish dinner. Another bonus is the time factor – it cooks relatively quickly (again, similar to grilling).
This broiler recipe starts with chicken thighs. Many people shy away from thighs in favor of the more popular boneless skinless chicken breasts. Though convenient, I’ve been going off them in favor of more flavorful parts such as thighs or legs or even using a whole roaster chicken. Plus thighs are juicier than breasts.
Lots of bold flavors come into play in this recipe – salty green olives, fresh zesty oranges, the licorice taste of fennel and a bit of smoke and spice from paprika and red pepper. The juices of the chicken and the water released from the onions, fennel and orange create a lovely sauce, which can be mopped up with crusty bread….or serve it over couscous.
So dust off the old broiler (ok, not literally, but you get what I mean) and discover an old kitchen tool that’s new again.
Chicken Thighs with Fennel, Orange and Green Olives (serves 4-6)
1 bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup pitted green olives, sliced in half
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
Salt and pepper
1 orange, cut into eighths, but not peeled
8 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on preferred), about 2 1/2 pounds or 1 kilogram
Heat the broiler (to high, if you have that option).
Combine the fennel, onion, olives, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss gently. Spread mixture in a medium roasting pan (e.g. 9 x 13 inch or 23 x 33 cm) and scatter orange sections on top.
Add the chicken and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the now-empty bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place thighs on top of fennel mixture, skin-side down (if chicken has skin).
Place under broiler with pan about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat source. After 4 minutes of cooking, turn chicken skin-side up and rotate pan. Continue broiling for another 3 minutes and then rotate pan again. Continue broiling until the chicken is fully cooked, about 7-10 minutes more (rotating individual chicken thighs, if necessary, to ensure even cooking). Chicken is fully cooked when juices run clear and/or temperature is 165º F (75º C) on an instant-read thermometer.
Serve with couscous or crusty bread.
Adapted from The New York Times