Friday, October 25, 2013

Savoury oats with braised fennel and chicken

Oats aren't just for breakfast. A savoury concoction can be made by easily substituting milk or water for chicken stock and maybe simmering with a little shallot and garlic. It takes a little to get your head around the fact that the silky lush and oh so meaty tasting concoction are oats, or perhaps it’s just me the has them relegated to the humble position of if cooked in liquid it’s porridge and should be sweet. Other grains such as rice don’t seem to have the problem, rice as a carb on a plate for dinner, or congee a savoury porridge, or as rice pudding a sticky sweet mess, so why not oats?

Savoury Oats
One cup of oats with a diced shallot and two cups of chicken stock are added to a pot over a low heat, stir occasionally to begin with and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring more frequently as the oats thicken. They’re cooked when thick creamy and soft but still with a bit of bite, not sludge. Stir through fennel fronds and a splash of good olive oil. Season with salt.

Fennel Braise
Cut whole fennel into wedges, finely slice an onion, dice a spicy chorizo and toss together in an oven dish, sprinkle over salt and add a generous splash of sweet vermouth, about quarter of cup, cover tightly with foil and bake at 150°C for about two–two and one half hours. The fennel should be meltingly tender but still holding its shape, not a mushy mess.

Season and brown chicken thighs all over and add to the braising fennel dish for the last 30–40 minutes.

Drain the braising liquid into a saucepan and bring to a very low simmer. Make a paste of one teaspoon arrowroot and two teaspoons of water. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the paste. If it doesn't thicken straight away put it back on the heat and stir constantly, it will thicken quickly.