(Although, I did throw out some grass seed this morning to try and cover up a bare spot that seems to be a poodle mud magnet, so I'm pretty sure the rain will immediately cease and desist. That's what happened every single time last spring when I attempted to cover the bald spots in my yard.)
During that ill-fated culinary school adventure, I started reading a lot of food blogs, blogs by other crazed culinary students, and food writing in general. One of the blogs that I stumbled across was Proud Italian Cook. The blogger lives near Chicago and cooks mainly, you guessed it, Italian.
Her food photography, as well as her recipes, are magazine worthy, and I wish I could wrangle a dinner invite in real life, instead of just through the internet.
Last year, she posted a recipe for Chicken with Fennel and Olives that has been my go-to comfort food for the last year. Initially, I was a little wary about the fennel, because fennel = licorice/anise flavor = hatred. But, the picture looked so amazing, I decided to brave the fennel. Plus, I figured if I didn't like it, I could leave it out if I wanted to make the dish again. And, there were olives, which could make up for a lot of not liking fennel if necessary.
This dish was amazing. She suggested serving it with a creamy, cheesy polenta, and I think the first time that I made it, I may have licked all the pans. The fennel actually has a very delicate flavor and was not overwhelming licorice like. I used chicken breasts the first time, and if I do it again, I'll whack them in half, crosswise. They were just too big, and I overcooked them a little bit.
The next couple of times I made it, I used bone-in, skin-on thighs, and that elevated it to an even higher level. I've always sort of skirted around eating thighs and legs, because I've not been that big of a fan of dark meat. It tastes kind of strong and gamey to me...unless it's in this dish.
I've tweaked the recipe a little bit, and I've fed this to several different folks, and it's gotten rave reviews every time. Here's the recipe, and my edits in are blue.
Just a side note about the tomatoes: I used 2 14-oz cans of the stewed tomatoes instead of 1. For some reason, I didn’t think diced work as well, because they seemed to lose flavor and texture. Weird, I know. Also, using 2 cans gives a little more sauce,which is not a bad thing at all in this recipe.
You cannot help but feel warm and content after consuming this dish, ready to hunker down in your Slanket or Snuggy or Pajama Jeans and hibernate for awhile...or at least until time for dessert.