A delicious summer supper dish from our kitchen garden cook.

Braising fennel really does mellow the flavour, converting even the fussiest of eaters.

Roast-chicken, fennel and lemon traybake with red Camargue rice

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 red onions
  • 3 fennel bulbs
  • 4 chicken breasts (skin on)
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 75ml olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml white wine
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 400g red Camargue rice (or 2 packets microwaveable grains)
  • Fresh basil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 75g grated Parmesan

Method
Preheat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Peel and cut the red onions into wedges. Remove the coarse outer leaves from the fennel bulbs and cut through the core, creating four even-sized pieces from each bulb. Put the chicken breasts into a large oven tray and arrange the onions and fennel around them.

Chop the chillies and scatter them over the tray. Slice the garlic bulb horizontally across and add
the two halves to the tray, cut-side up.

Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the ingredients and season generously. Combine the white wine and chicken stock in a jug and pour the liquid into the base of the oven tray. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is in the oven, put the rice into a heavy-based saucepan and cover it with boiling water – the water should come about 1in above the rice. Bring to a boil, cover the pan with a lid, lower the temperature and allow to cook gently for about 40 minutes.

When the traybake is ready to come out of the oven, squeeze the garlic cloves from the bulb into the cooked rice. Add a handful of chopped basil leaves and seasoning, then mix well to combine the flavours. Pour the tray juices into the rice and mix again.

Transfer the rice to a serving dish and arrange the chicken, fennel and onions on top. Finish with the lemon juice, grated Parmesan and more basil leaves and serve immediately.

More ways with fennel

Smoked-salmon, crab, avocado, apple and fennel salad

Cut a crisp apple and half a fennel bulb into matchsticks. Mix with lemon juice, a splash of olive oil and salt, then cover and refrigerate. Put the flesh of 1 avocado into a food processor with the juice of 1 lemon, 1tbspn of double cream and seasoning. Blitz until smooth, adding more cream if necessary. Whip 100ml of double cream and mix in a squeeze of lemon juice, 1tspn of fennel pollen and salt. Refrigerate until ready to plate the dish.

Arrange 400g of smoked salmon in a single layer on a large serving plate. Spoon 100g of white crab meat around it in a circle. Pipe the avocado cream on in balls, followed by the fennel-pollen cream. Sprinkle a little more fennel pollen onto each cream ball, then spoon the fennel-and-apple salad into the centre. Squeeze lemon juice over the salmon, top with a scattering of fresh dill sprigs and serve immediately.

The components will hold in the fridge until you’re ready to serve, making this an ideal dinner-party starter, served either on a large platter or arranged on individual plates.

A side of fennel

Cut 4 fennel bulbs into slices and arrange them snugly in a baking dish. Season 200ml of double cream, add a crushed clove of garlic and pour it over the fennel. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 30 minutes, by which time the fennel should be soft. Its delicate flavour is perfect with fish.