pancetta wrapped chicken with blue cheese & sage on creamy braised fennel

serves 6

Good morning! Right – here we go another weekly recipe in the lead up to Christmas and the new year. These were both so bloody easy and delicious to make, and work beautifully together, I hope you’ll give them a whirl! The chicken in this recipe is stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in pancetta with sage, then cooked on a bed of creamy, soft fennel…rich and luscious.The salad (posted separately) is totally addictive with garlic roasted little red potatoes and asparagus, sweet, ripe tomatoes, crunchy red onion, peppery rocket and a classic vinaigrette. It would make a perfect Christmas lunch for 6, but could easily be doubled to serve 10-12, and just a note that I have kept the portion sizes on the chicken deliberately small as it is quite rich, and designed for lunchtime eating.

Aaaand I had my birthday ‘do’ last Saturday night which was a total blast – I am incredibly lucky to have the most amazing group of friends, who ate, drank, danced and laughed into the night. Two girlfriends (hello Vetty and Sarah!) made the most incredible birthday cake, a perfect replica of the book ‘coming un stuck’ – except with the wording ‘becoming the fab tuck’. Not only did it look stunning but it tasted fabulous too. Then there was the hilarious song and dance routine performed by a gorgeous group of women, all wearing short blonde wigs, over-sized glasses and aprons. They belted out a version of Y.M.C.A with the letters T.U.C.K accompanied by perfect back up music and dance moves. Needless to say it was brilliant. As the night wore on I might have had one more negroni than was strictly necessary and boogied energetically ’til the wee hours. I had been pensive about throwing my own party, worried that it was self-indulgent and silly, but I’m so glad I did…you only turn 50 once after all. L’il shout out to my run-around helpers and ‘muscle men’ too – huge thanks for coming to move furniture around two days in a row!

So, now loads to do – I’m shooting with Cuisine today, it’s 6:30am and the slow cooked meat has already been in the oven for an hour. Best I get (back) out of bed and on with my day. Check back in next week for another new recipe!

1 tablespoon olive oil
25 grams butter
3 large fennel bulbs
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup cream
3 large single chicken breasts
80 grams firm blue cheese, cut into 6 slices
6 large sage leaves
200grams pancetta

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy based pot. Trim the outer leaves from the fennel bulbs, halve, core them and slice into ½ cm pieces. Add to the pot, season well with salt and pepper and cook over a gentle heat for 15 minutes. Add the cream and cook a further 10 minutes. Place into a baking dish and refrigerate while you prepare the chicken. Cut each chicken breast in half, and if thick, cover with baking paper and pound gently with a rolling pin. Cut a pocket into the side of each piece of chicken and fill with cheese. Lay out two pieces of pancetta at a time and roll chicken pieces in them, wedging in a sage leaf as you go. Refrigerate the chicken pieces for half an hour before cooking to help hold their shape. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Nestle the chicken into the fennel and season again with sea salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes then increase the heat to 200˚C and finish with a further 5 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes before serving with the baby red potato salad with asparagus.

1 comment

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