Rustic Curried Chicken, Mushroom and Fennel Stew

I usually draw inspiration from dishes made by others or those that I have eaten in restaurants or while traveling to a new place, but this stew came out of nowhere! I had some chicken thighs lying in the refrigerator and since I didn’t want them to go bad, I had to use it in something. Somehow I am tired of eating the same-old-same-old things, so I decided to make something new and use up all the raw ingredients that I had lying at home. I had bought the mushrooms at the farmer’s market this past weekend and the bulb of fennel a couple of days ago at Whole Foods because it looks tempting and fresh. Then I added the Bourbon because I needed something alcoholic to perk up the taste and didn’t have any already open bottle of wine. I added the Cannellini because I needed to thicken the sauce up a bit and the Serrano chili because I can never make anything without adding some heat to it. So there you have it – the dish should have made no sense but somehow it did! It made a lot of sense – it tasted really good because all the elements came together. The sauce at the bottom was really delicious and the grilled fennel added a sweet and crunchy element to the dish. It is a rustic stew that is satisfying and perfect for dinner on a cold winter evening. If I may say so myself, this turned out to be a wonderful invention/creation (lucky fluke, eh?)!



1.    4 skinned Chicken thighs (bone in)
2.    ½ large onion
3.    ½ cup of Chicken broth
4.    3-4 tablespoons of Bourbon
5.    One bulb of fennel
6.    2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
7.    1 tablespoon of butter
8.    Salt and pepper to taste
9.    2 teaspoons of curry powder
10.    ½ teaspoon of onion powder
11.    1 teaspoon of sweet Paprika
12.    2 cups of mushrooms (I used Cremini mushrooms)
13.    One lemon
14.    3 tablespoons of half and half
15.    One Serrano chili
16.    One can of Cannellini beans

Directions for Cooking   


1.    Sprinkle a little bit of curry powder on both sides of the chicken thighs.

2.    Also sprinkle the onion salt and the paprika.

3.    Squeeze the juice of half a lemon all over the chicken thighs (both sides) and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil.

4.    Heat a cast iron grilling pan over low heat and place the chicken thighs in it (still on low heat) and start grilling the pieces of chicken.

5.    While the chicken is getting done. Add a little bit of butter and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a nonstick pan and start warming the pan over low heat.
6.    Peel and slice the onion and pour it into the nonstick pan to caramelize the onions.

7.    While the onions are getting caramelized and the chicken thighs are getting grilled on another burner, clean the mushrooms and half them.

8.    Add the mushrooms to the nonstick pan containing onions and stir.

9.    Remove the veins and the seeds from the Serrano chili and finely chop the flesh of the chili.
10.    Add the chili pieces to the nonstick pan and stir.

11.    When the chicken pieces get cooked on one side, turn the thighs over to cook the other side. Continue to cook the onions and mushrooms over low heat in the second pan.

12.    When the chicken pieces looks cooked on both sides, add them to the nonstick pan.

13.    Wash and slice the fennel bulb and place the slice over the cast iron grill pan that you were using to grill the chicken. Let the fennel get grill marks on both sides and get semi-cooked.

14.    Add the Bourbon to the nonstick pan and deglaze it a little bit.

15.    Also add the chicken broth, stir everything in the pan and cover it with a lid. Continue cooking over low heat.

16.    Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to the non-stick pan.

17.    When the fennel looks about half cooked (keep it still crunchy), add the pieces to the pan and let everything cook for another 2-3 minutes over low heat.

18.    Add the half and half to the pan and stir. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust according to your taste.

19.     Open the can of Cannellini beans and rinse them under cold water (to wash the salt off) and add them to the pan. Stir and cover the pan and let the stew cook for another 23 minutes.
20.    The stew is now ready to be served – garnish it with the green leaves on top of the fennel bulb and a little bit of the Serrano chili.  Serve the spicy stew with some bread on the side.


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