I love my mandolin. No, I don’t play in a bluegrass band (although, damn, that would be cool); I mean one of these. A mandolin slicer is a tool that can cut fruits and veggies into slices that are much thinner and more uniform than I can make with my knife. (You can also use it if you need to slice a lot of anything that’s firm enough and fits, and depending on the slicer you get, you may be able to do fancy things like crinkle cuts, sticks and even waffle cuts.)
Tonight, I looked at the ingredients I wanted to use and decided to get down my mandolin. In just about a minute, I had the onion and fennel bulb needed for this dish cut into paper-thin slices. Sure makes prep easy, which is why I love it. I improvised this dish using those ingredients, and my family liked it well enough that I’ll add it to the “repeat” pile.
Using the mandolin and piling everything together in the dish made it quick for a weeknight meal, but if you want to make a more special dish and spend a little time over the stove, follow the alternate directions below the main recipe. (I would leave the skin on the chicken thighs for the alternate method.) I served this over whole-wheat couscous and with roasted asparagus. It would also be good with crusty bread to dip into the juices.
If you cook at home much at all, I urge you to get a mandolin. You’ll save time on recipes with tedious slicing and may find it kind of addicting. And, you can make homemade veggie chips with any “slice-able” vegetable by tossing the slices in a little olive oil, spreading them apart on a baking sheet, sprinkling with salt, baking at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flipping them, and baking for another 10 minutes, give or take. Pass the parsnips, please!
Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Fennel
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 skinless chicken thighs
6 whole garlic clovesSalt and pepper
1 large fennel bulb, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread olive oil in bottom of a deep baking dish. Place chicken thighs on top of olive oil and tuck garlic cloves around thighs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with all remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.
Alternate directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a Dutch oven or similar deep pan, heat olive oil over medium heat on the stove top. Sprinkle chicken thighs (skin on) with salt and pepper, and brown, skin side down, in the Dutch oven. Turn skin side up and cook 5 minutes more, then remove chicken and set aside. Sauté onions and fennel in the same pan you cooked the chicken in for 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent, stirring often to prevent burning. Add tomatoes and vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all the browned goodness there. Place the chicken (skin side up) on top of all this, with garlic tucked around, and bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked. Other good additions to this would be thyme and sliced green olives.
Written by: Shannon Oelrich