This chicken with creamy fennel broth is so delicious, spicy, and rich. We topped it with a fennel gremolata so no part of the fennel goes to waste!
The basis of this chicken with creamy fennel broth is chicken with crispy skin, a creamy, spicy fennel broth, and a fennel gremolata.
The best part of this recipe is that you can prepare everything as the chicken finishes baking in the oven. The spicy, creamy broth is only a few ingredients, consisting of:
- A little leftover chicken fat
- A diced onion
- Sliced fennel bulb and stalks
- Pasta cooking water
- Salt, pepper, and a healthy sprinkle of crushed red pepper
Fennel is an amazingly versatile ingredient, but it’s easy to only want to use the bulb and nothing else. You can absolutely thinly slice the stalks and use the fronds as garnish.
How to make this recipe:
In this chicken with fennel broth recipe, we use the reserved fronds to create a simple gremolata with toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, and salt. I added a sprinkle of fennel pollen to intensify the fennel flavor, but you can omit the pollen if you don’t have it.
To plate this dish, I divided cooked orzo between shallow bowls. It’s totally okay if the orzo isn’t piping hot when you plate it. I spooned the hot broth over top. You only need a few spoonfuls of the creamy fennel broth. From there, I placed a cooked chicken thigh on top and piled the fennel gremolata on top.
If you made this chicken with creamy fennel broth recipe, please rate the recipe below and leave a comment to tell me how you liked it! If you take a picture of it, please tag me on Instagram so I can feature you in my feed!
Want more fennel recipes? Check my archives!
Chicken with Creamy Fennel Broth
- Sheet pan
- Large skillet
- Large pot
- 4 chicken thighs skin-on, bone-in
- 2 teaspoons neutral cooking oil for frying
- 8 ounces orzo
- 2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
- 1 fennel bulb with stalks and fronds
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
- ½ cup fennel fronds
- 1 lemon juiced
- 3 ounces pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon fennel pollen optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Heat the neutral cooking oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, pat the chicken dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Place into the skillet and cook in batches, skin-side down, until the skin is crispy and golden (about 5 minutes).
- As the chicken finishes cooking, transfer it to a sheet pan, skin-side up. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of chicken fat and set the skillet aside.
- Place a small piece of aluminum foil in the corner of the sheet pan and add the pine nuts in an even layer.
- Transfer the sheet pan to the oven. After 5-7 minutes, remove the pine nuts and set aside.
- Continue baking the chicken for another 30 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 165ºF. Turn off the oven and leave the chicken in the warm oven until you are ready to plate the dish.
Cook the Orzo:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until just al dente. Scoop out 2 cups of pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain and rinse the orzo.
Prepare the Fennel:
- Remove 1/2 cup of fennel fronds from the stalks. Pick off the remaining fronds and reserve for another use. Thinly slice the fennel stalks into rounds. Remove the core from the bulb and slice the bulb into strips. Set aside.
Prepare the Creamy Fennel Broth:
- Heat the skillet used to fry the chicken over medium heat. Once hot, add the fennel and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until softened and golden brown.
- Add the reserved pasta cooking water and bring to a boil. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Cook for 5 more minutes until reduced slightly. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and reduce heat to low. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes until thickened. Turn off the heat.
Prepare the Fennel Gremolata:
- Roughly chop the fennel fronds and toss them in a bowl with the toasted pine nuts. Add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and fennel pollen (if using) and toss to combine. Set aside.
- Divide the orzo between shallow bowls and ladle the broth on top. Place a chicken thigh on top and garnish with the fennel gremolata. Enjoy!
Holy cow. We love a braised chicken thigh with fennel. But a *creamy* fennel sauce with chicken thighs?? We added mushrooms to the sauce and some wilted curly escarole to the orzo because we had them. 100% plan to use this sauce for mussels… but also… everything else. Steak, pork, cod… and mushroom/grain bowl. It’s a dang delight.
After 70 years on this planet I finally tried a recipe with fennel and was fortunate for it to be this recipe. This was fantastic and will be a regular in our dinner rotation, my wife couldn’t stop raving over the dish. I had a few glitches in fixing this. First I didn’t have the orzo so I substituted farro and it was good and would do again. Second, I failed to remove the pine nuts in time and scorched them and had to toss them. We had leftovers and upon reheating them a few days later found they were every bit as good.
Thank you so much for the feedback!! So glad you enjoyed it. Sorry about the pine nuts – those little suckers burn up as soon as you turn your back on them, don’t they!!