Anisage Chicken

anisage chicken

I don’t remember why I bought whole anise seed. Well, I remember why I bought it whole: it’s one of those spices that loses its flavor rapidly once it’s been ground. Maybe I had a recipe in mind. Maybe it was on sale at Penzeys. It doesn’t matter — this dish is yummy enough to more than justify the purchase. It was one of those nights when I had another chicken dish in mind in the morning, but the recipe had lost its appeal by the evening. I needed something new. Time to try out the anise! 

I ground a bit of it with my mortar and pestle and stood in front of my spice cabinet letting my mind wander. I pulled a few other jars off the shelf, holding them open next to the anise and smelling the combination. That’s a great way to get an idea of whether or not they will play well together. Once I settled on an intriguing flavor combination, I scooped a little of each into a small prep bowl and played with the proportions a while. Then I grabbed my sheet pan, the chicken, and some veggies and quickly assembled a sheet pan supper, one of my favorite ways to cook dinner. 

Right now, you’re thinking, “Wow, she’s brilliant, coming up with a new recipe that easily?” I wish. What I had in my prep bowl smelled divine. What came out on my plate was…boring. Back to the drawing board. The first thing I did was increase the seasonings. No way could it smell that good and not be fixable. Maybe it just needed more. And saffron. That’ll spark it up a bit. Then I took a hard look at my ingredient list. Wait! Where are the onions and garlic? What?! I made a recipe without onions and garlic? What on earth was I thinking? Oh, right. I was thinking that onions sometimes are too wet for a sheet pan supper, and I didn’t want the seasonings lost in a puddle of onion juice. And I thought the seasoning blend was delicate enough that garlic might be too robust a flavor to add. Wrong! So, yeah, I added onions and garlic. At which point, the light bulb went on over my head, and I realized: This dish does not want a sheet pan, it wants a skillet for fond. That’s the culinary word for those yummy brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan after sautéing. Fond intensifies the flavors of the meat, vegetables, and seasonings. After everything has browned, a liquid — usually wine, broth, or water — is poured into the pan to loosen and dissolve the fond. And you are rewarded with a magnificent pan sauce that melds the flavors together into something entirely new! A final dusting with fennel salt tops everything off with a little pop of flavor. It’s still a one-dish meal, just in a skillet instead of on a sheet pan. A little more hands-on work, but well worth the effort. Nutritious, too!

(The photo shows a few dollops of pesto. Don’t bother. It was overkill, and overpowering. Pretty in the picture, though, isn’t it?)

Ingredients:

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1 teaspoon whole anise seed 

a pinch of saffron (about 15 to 20 threads)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground sage

½ teaspoon ground ginger

8 oz (225 g) baby red potatoes

1 small onion, about 6 oz (170 g)

5 oz (140 g) carrots, about 2 large

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (20 oz, or 587 g), trimmed

¾ teaspoon Penzeys or Diamond Crystal kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

1 cup unsalted broth

fennel finishing salt (optional)

Preparation:

1.) Grind the anise seed and saffron with a mortar & pestle. Stir in coriander, sage, & ginger; set aside.

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2.) Prep all of the produce, keeping each ingredient separate for now: Dice the potatoes, chop the onion, thickly slice the carrots, and thinly slice the garlic. Set aside.

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3.) Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides without cooking through. Transfer to a bowl & keep warm. I should have done my chicken in two batches — it was a little too crowded for good browning. I must have been hungry!

 

4.) Heat the last of the oil in the skillet. Add the potatoes. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula to lift the browning potatoes up from the pan bottom. Transfer to the chicken bowl.

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5.) Add the onions to the skillet. Turn the heat down a bit and stir frequently so that they don’t scorch. When the onions have softened and started to turn translucent, add the sliced garlic. Cook briefly, about 30 seconds, until garlic becomes fragrant. 

 

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6.) Add the carrots. Pour in the broth, scraping to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

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7.) Stir in the seasoning mixture (not the fennel salt yet if you’re using that.) Return the chicken and potatoes to the pan, stirring briefly to coat. Cook uncovered about 20 minutes or until chicken is done and the sauce has reduced, turning the chicken halfway through. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the fennel finishing salt.

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Anisage Chicken

Ingredients

1 teaspoon whole anise seed

a pinch of saffron (about 15 to 20 threads)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground sage

½ teaspoon ground ginger

8 oz (225 g) baby red potatoes

1 small onion, about 6 oz (170 g)

5 oz (140 g) carrots, about 2 large

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (20 oz, or 587 g), trimmed

¾ teaspoon Penzeys or Diamond Crystal kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

1 cup unsalted broth

fennel finishing salt (optional)

Directions

1.) Grind the anise seed and saffron with a mortar & pestle. Stir in coriander, sage, & ginger; set aside.

2.) Prep all of the produce, keeping each ingredient separate for now: Dice the potatoes, chop the onion, thickly slice the carrots, and thinly slice the garlic. Set aside.

3.) Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet. Brown the chicken on both sides without cooking through. Transfer to a bowl & keep warm.

4.) Heat the last of the oil in the skillet. Add the potatoes. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula to lift the browning potatoes up from the pan bottom. Transfer to the chicken bowl.

5.) Add the onions to the skillet. Turn the heat down a bit and stir frequently so that they don’t scorch. When the onions have softened and started to turn translucent, add the sliced garlic. Cook briefly, about 30 seconds, until garlic becomes fragrant.

6.) Add the carrots. Pour in the broth, scraping to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

7.) Stir in the seasoning mixture (not the fennel salt yet if you’re using that.) Return the chicken and potatoes to the pan, stirring briefly to coat. Cook uncovered about 20 minutes or until chicken is done and the sauce has reduced, turning chicken halfway through. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the fennel finishing salt.

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