Cider-Braised Chicken and Fennel Panzanella

A Tuscan favorite with a slightly sweet modern twist that’s sure to delight.

While you may have never heard of Bread Salad before once you’ve tried it, you’ll likely never forget it again. From humble beginnings, this dish has become a unique and flavorful addition to even the highest-end cuisines.

Just the Basics

Panzanella is a dish that began in Tuscany, Italy, in the fourteenth century. It started as a dish prepared by peasants to make use of leftovers. Scraps of stale bread, left-over vegetables, and other items were combined to make a meal that farmers often took into the fields with them the next day. Over the generations, the dish evolved to include fresh ingredients and became a staple of Italian cuisine. The basic recipe for a Panzanella includes Tuscan bread, known as pane sciocco or bread without salt, and tomatoes as well as other seasonal veggies.

The addition of fennel in this particular variation of a Panzanella adds a plethora of nutrients and vitamins that have health benefits such as:

  • Bone Health
  • Hearth Health
  • Immune Health
  • Inflammatory Reduction
  • Blood Pressure Health

Recipe & Preparation

This recipe for Cider Braised Chicken and Fennel Panzanella comes from Country Living magazine and yields four servings. It can be completed in just over an hour and is sure to become a favorite dish.

Ingredients

  • ½ a loaf of bread
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 4 shallots
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • ½ cup of apple cider
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 4 cups of baby kale
  • 2 scallions
  • Lemon wedges

Prep your ingredients before you start cooking. For this recipe, that means tearing the bread into bite-sized chunks, cutting the fennel bulb into wedges roughly a half an inch thick, quartering the shallots and thinly slicing the scallions.

Preparation

If your bread is fresh, you can turn it into crouton like pieces in no time. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, toss the bread with four tablespoons of oil on a large baking sheet and bake in a single layer until golden brown. Roughly 15 or 20 minutes.

While those are browning, you can work on the rest of the recipe.

  1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet
  2. Add the shallots and fennel along with salt and pepper
  3. Cook two to four minutes, stirring constantly
  4. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet and add the chicken skin sides down
  5. Cook five to six minutes and remove to a plate
  6. Add the white wine and cook for one minute until syrupy
  7. Add fennel and shallot mixture, thyme and cider
  8. Add chicken, skin side up
  9. Place in oven and roast undisturbed until the chicken is cooked through, roughly 20 to 25 minutes
  10. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and the vegetables to a bowl using a slotted spoon or tongs to leave the liquid in the skillet
  11. Allow the liquid to simmer on medium-high heat for five minutes, reducing it to about 1/3 of a cup
  12. Reintroduce veggies and add bread
  13. Toss to coat evenly
  14. Fold in scallions and kale
  15. Transfer to the serving plate with the chicken

Lemon wedges interspersed around the edge of the platter add a burst of color as well as a tasty garnish and replace the tomatoes of traditional Panzanella.

Variations

There are a number of different possible variations of this versatile dish including those that utilize the flavors of the current season such as with Spring Panzanella and Winter Panzanella. Moreover, simple changes with how the chicken is cooked and incorporated as well as alterations of the complementing ingredients can provide a whole new variation for this dish.

Cider-Braised Chicken and Fennel Panzanella offers a tasty and visually appealing take on a Tuscan favorite. Its slightly sweet and tangy flavor makes it a popular choice for any meal.

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