Lemon, garlic, fresh rosemary, fennel, onion and dates …. don’t those ingredients sound like the perfect accompaniment to boneless, skinless chicken thighs? I thought so, and that’s why I chose to make my chicken thighs with just those things for last night’s dinner.
Next week, I will be hosting a birthday dinner for three of my friends that all have birthdays in April. There is a group of 8 of us that celebrate everything from the start of the holiday season to our birthdays throughout the year. We’ve known each other since our kids were in kindergarten and now they are all in their first year of college – finishing their first year in college, in fact. Seems like just yesterday we were all talking about how we couldn’t believe high school graduation was just around the corner … how could the last twelve years have gone by so quickly?
I’ve been trying to decide on a main dish that would be simple enough to make on the day of the party, yet elegant enough to serve in celebration of the birthday girls. My friends (minus the birthday princesses, of course) will each be bringing something. I wanted to make sure what I choose to make will go with whatever the other girls will be bringing.
I believe this may be the perfect main course! I marinated a package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs this afternoon in a lemon tarragon salad dressing. I happened to use this dressing by Brianna’s, but feel free to use any lemon dressing you like.
I sprinkled the thighs on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as well as five cloves of fresh, minced garlic before pouring a cup of the dressing over the chicken. I covered the dish and placed it in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
I wanted to make sure the chicken was brought to room temperature before starting to cook it, so I pulled the dish out of the fridge 30 minutes before.
As the chicken was coming to room temperature, I sliced the fennel and the onion. I also took this time to slice the dates enough so that I could remove the pits.
I also sliced my lemons and minced the rosemary ….
Using my cast iron skillet to make this dish sounded like the right idea. In doing so, I could start by browning the chicken and sautéing the fennel and onion on the stovetop before placing the skillet in the oven to finish cooking. I started by heating a few tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. To the hot skillet, I added the chicken thighs and browned them for 3-4 minutes per side. Once the chicken was browned to my liking, I removed it from the skillet and placed it on a plate to rest while I sautéed the fennel and onion. (If the skillet feels dry, add another tablespoon of olive oil.) Once they started to soften and caramelize, I added the pitted dates and a cup of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio). I returned the chicken to the skillet, placing it on top of the dates, stuffing lemon slices under and between the thighs. I also sprinkled most of the rosemary over the chicken – reserving just a tad for garnishing my chicken upon serving.
I placed the chicken into a preheated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.
I sliced a nice loaf of crusty bread, placed the slices into the oven to toast … a thick slice of “toast” was just the right companion for our dinner last night.
- 1 package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1 cup Lemon Tarragon Salad Dressing
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 fennel bulbs, sliced
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 8 ounces dates, pits removed
- 1/2 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 4 sprigs rosemary, minced
- 3 lemons, sliced
- Place chicken into a glass dish to marinate. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Add minced garlic and dressing. Cover and place in refrigerator for 4 hours, up to 8 hours.
- Slice fennel and onion. Remove pits from dates.
- Slice lemons and mince rosemary.
- Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
- Heat 3 tablespoons oil in cast iron skillet. Add chicken and brown on both sides (3-4 minutes per side). Remove chicken to a plate after browning.
- Add fennel and onion (along with extra oil, if needed) to skillet and sauté for 5-7 minutes, making sure to scrape up any brown bits left from browning the chicken.
- Once vegetables start to soften, add wine and dates, placing chicken on top.
- Sprinkle 2/3 of the rosemary over the chicken and place into a preheated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes. (Check at 20 minutes. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees when it is done.)
- Before serving, sprinkle the remaining rosemary onto the chicken.
Until next time, Kris