Rustic Braised Chicken with Fennel and Black Olives

Here's another in the series of Three Ingredient Meals. The fennel and rosemary are aromatic complements to the dark chicken and olives.

The Three Ingredients
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, about 1-1/4 pounds
1 large or two small fennel bulbs
1/4 to 1/3 cup pitted black Saracena, Kalamata, or similar oil-packed black olives

The Other Ingredients That Aren't Supposed to Count
3-4 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Rinse the chicken thighs and pat dry. Trim any excess fat or cartilage and cut each thigh into two pieces. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Rinse the fennel bulb and trim the long fibrous stalks, reserving any feathery greens. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise and cut out the hard core. Slice the fennel crosswise into 1/4 inch pieces. Chop the greens coarsely.

Heat a large skillet over a medium-high flame and add 2 Tbs oil. When the oil shimmers, add half the chicken pieces and cook about 2 minutes, then flip to brown the other side. Remove and set aside, then brown the remaining chicken and set that aside, too.

Heat the remaining olive oil and add the garlic and fennel. Sauté until the fennel begins to soften and brown, about 5 minutes. Place the fennel in a 9 by 13 inch baking pan and place the chicken pieces and its juices on top.

Return the pan to the heat, turn the flame to high, and pour in the chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits. Boil the stock until it's reduced by half. Pour this over the chicken and fennel in the baking pan.

Scatter the olives, fennel greens, and chopped rosemary over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the liquid is reduced.

Serve with crusty bread, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a few drizzles of good-quality extra virgin olive oil.

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