Food + Drink

Modern Jewish Cooking

As any food writer or cookbook author will likely tell you, people tend to ask me for food advice – particularly where and what to eat. To be honest, the question always make me feel a bit sheepish. Food is the center of my professional life, and in many respects the rest of my life too! But at the end of the day, taste is so personal. Who am I to tell someone what they’re going to enjoy?

That said, I am thrilled (thrilled) to help people get their creative juices flowing, particularly in the kitchen. And with Passover coming up—A.K.A. the Jewish calendar’s culinary equivalent to Thanksgiving—now is the perfect opportunity to do just that. While I personally love many of the traditional Eastern European dishes served on Passover, they tend to be a bit on the heavy side. So this year, I’m planning to swap out the traditional brisket with the Roast Chicken with Fennel and Orange that I developed for Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen.

Fragrant with sunny citrus zest and punctuated by bites of sweet, softened fennel, the chicken has all of the beauty and flavor required of a holiday main dish, while still tasting light and fresh. It also reheats well, which makes it a great make-ahead dish for the seder meal, or any dinner party. So, just in case you wanted to ask, make this chicken for Passover. But most importantly, make it your own.

With just a few simple additions, regular roast chicken becomes extraordinary. This version slips sweet fennel and slices of bright orange—both popular ingredients among Mediterranean Jewish communities—under chicken thighs and legs to soften and soak up the juices while the bird roasts. The result is a super-flavorful meal in a pan: tender vegetables, caramelized citrus fruit, and a gorgeously browned bird scented with thyme.

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Orange

Roast Chicken with Fennel and Orange for Passover

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup / 60 ml
  • 2 navel oranges; 1 zested and juiced, 1 cut into 1/4-in/6-mm slices
  • 1 Tbsp dryed thyme
  • 3 medium fennel bulbs, halved, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 small yellow onoins, quartered through the root
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lb/1.8 kg skin-on chicken legs and thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, orange zest and juice, and thyme.
  2. Arrange the fennel and onions evenly on the bottom of a roasting pan or on a large rimmed baking sheet, and top with a layer of orange slices. Drizzle with the remaining 1/4 cup/60 ml oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dip them into the oil–orange mixture, turning to coat. Arrange the chicken pieces, skin-side up, on top of the fennel and orange and roast for 30 minutes. Spoon the pan drippings over the chicken, then continue roasting until the skin is browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of one of the thighs reaches 165°F/75°C, 25 to 30 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a platter with the roasted fennel, onions, and orange, and drizzle with the pan juices. Serve hot.
Leah Koenig

Leah Koenig

Leah Koenig is the author of Modern Jewish Cooking, Little Book of Jewish Appetizers, and Little Book of Jewish Feasts. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Leah Koenig

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