Crispy Braised Chicken and Saffron Rice

by Xinyu on 09th Feb, 2012

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Chinese New Year is over, so its back to the Christmas dinner! This dish was the main course, again recipes from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home. The main flavours in the chicken are fennel and olives, tempered by lemon zest and thyme.

Crispy Braised Chicken

Chicken legs , fennel bulbs , large green olives , onion , garlic , red pepper flakes , bay leaves , lemon zest , thyme , dry white wine , chicken stock , salt
Chicken legs
['chicken legs']
fennel bulbs
['fennel bulbs']
large green olives
['large green olives']
red pepper flakes
['red pepper flakes']
bay leaves
['bay leaves']
lemon zest
['lemon zest']
dry white wine
['dry white wine']
chicken stock
['chicken stock']
Cut fennel bulbs into batons, reserving the core for another use. Chop onions and garlic.

Season chicken legs with salt. Heat up a large ovenproof roasting pan that can hold all the chicken legs, and add a bit of oil. Sear the legs skin-side-down till brown, then sear the other side. Transfer to a cooling rack. At this point there should be a good amount of liquid fat from the chicken legs in the pan; make sure you do not discard that.

Lower the heat and add onions, garlic and fennel. Cook till slightly tender. Add the wine to deglaze and simmer. Add the olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest, thyme, and finally the chicken stock. Simmer till fennel is fully tender.

Taste the liquid and season with salt if required; it should have a strong flavour, almost like a sauce. Add the chicken legs back into the pan, skin-side-up, in a single layer. The chicken should be sitting around halfway in the liquid.

Let the liquid reach a simmer, and then put into an oven preheated at 375F. Roast till chicken is cooked (since there's a grilling phase after this, its ok if its slightly underdone at this stage).

Set  the oven to its grill mode and grill the chicken skin for a short while, just to crisp the skin. Remove from oven and plate, using the braising liquid as a sauce.

Saffron Rice

Short-grain rice*, saffron threads, onion, chicken stock, salt

* Thomas Keller recommends Calasparra, but we couldn't find that in the supermarkets here. We used Arobrio instead, the risotto rice; Carnaroli works too.

Chop onion finely. Heat up a frying pan with a fair amount of oil, and fry the onion with a bit of salt at medium-low heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the saffron, make sure not to brown the onions or the saffron. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often.

Spread the rice out on the pan to a thin layer, and add chicken stock just so the stock covers all the rice. Stir and spread out the rice thinly again. Cover with a parchment lid (a piece of parchment paper cut in a circle put directly on the rice) simmer till most of the stock has been absorbed.

Repeat this process, monitoring the rice carefully till it is almost cooked; stir gently while doing this. Once it is almost cooked, let the rice absorb all of the remaining liquid. Season with salt, and plate.
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