Crispy Baked Fennel Chicken
A lot of people say how lucky my kids are to have a mom who’s a chef. The truth is, not everything I cook is well received in my house. (I am mainly referring to my children.) Most often, they like the things I make. Other times, things don’t go so smoothly and they actively avoid that section of their plates, as if something toxic resides there. They have learned some subtly over the years, how to politely express their distaste for whatever it is I made, cushioning the blow so as not to hurt my feelings (this is still a work in progress).
My crispy baked fennel chicken is one of those recipes. They don’t love it. But that doesn’t stop me. I love this recipe, I always have. I welcome the simplicity–the ease of preparation; the tasty crispy coasting; and, of course, the fennel flavor. I have made this recipe for as long as I can remember. If you have been to my house for dinner, I may have made it for you. I honestly think my boys used to like it, but tastes change and that’s okay.
As an alternative to the commonly used (and frequently bland) chicken breasts, I like to use organic skinless, boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. Skinless dark meat holds up better in the oven and does not dry out as quickly. Coated in seasoned panko bread crumbs tossed with whole fennel seeds, the chicken has a crispy outer coating.
Unlike my recipe for Eli’s favorite chicken, where I also use panko bread crumbs, I am not dredging the chicken in flour and egg to get the bread crumbs to coat. Instead, in this recipe, I lightly brush Dijon mustard on both sides of the chicken to work as the binding agent. Baked on high heat, you get delicious juicy chicken with a crispy coating that is more health-conscious than a traditional fried chicken recipe. I often prep this chicken recipe in advance, cover and refrigerate, and cook it right before dinner, making this a quick option on a busy weekday.
So if you sometimes make a dish that you enjoy but that someone in your family does not, I say don’t sweat it. Sometimes, you should get what you want. And they’ll all be fine; after all, that is what cereal is for.