Stop the presses!! This Cook’s Country Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Braised Fennel, Olives, and Orange recipe is soooo tasty, you’d think someone spent hours making it. Quite the contrary—it takes only about 45 minutes total, including prep. So yes, it’s a great weeknight alternative to the same old boring chicken breast dinner.
Now I know some folks who just can’t abide the taste of fennel. Me? I can eat it raw. But in this dish the flavor profile mellows from a sharp bite to a softly rendered juicy mouthful with only a delicate hint of its former self. All of the flavor components work so well together and provide a cohesive ensemble that’s worth raving about.
There were a few differences in the meal I prepared. First, because I had 3 ginormous chicken breasts on hand, I just used those instead of buying 4 smaller ones. And because of that, I slightly increased the orange peel, garlic, shallot and olive quantities. Finally, we shredded up the softened orange peel distributing into our plate of food which was served over a bed of couscous cooked with homemade chicken stock.
Definitely going onto our recommended weeknight rotation…
Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts with Braised Fennel, Olives and Orange
- 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 3 fennel bulbs, stalks discarded, bulbs halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch-thick wedges
- 4 shallots, sliced into ½-inch-thick rings
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 (2-inch) strips orange zest plus ¼ cup juice
- ½ cup water
- ⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, ¼teaspoon pepper, and cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.
- Add chicken to skillet, skinned side down, and cook until browned on first side, about 6minutes. Transfer chicken, browned side up, to large plate; set aside.
- Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add fennel, shallots, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, covered, until softened and browned, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and orange zest and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add water and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Add chicken, browned side up; cover; and cook until registering 160 degrees, 10 to 14 minutes (or a few minutes longer if the breasts are bigger).
- Transfer chicken to cutting board and tent with foil. Stir olives and orange juice into fennel mixture in skillet. Slice chicken ½ inch thick.
- Serve chicken with fennel mixture and pan sauce, sprinkled with parsley and drizzled with extra oil.
- Serve with crusty bread, mashed potatoes, or as we did, with couscous.
It was sooo good we finished half the platter in no time!