Friday, June 10, 2011

Fennel spiced Chicken served with Spinach, Tortilla and Paprika Oil

During my time in the Masterchef house I learned quite a few things in the kitchen.  In fact all of the contestants got caught up in this exponential learning curve of cuisine.  Knowledge piled on knowledge.  Hour after hour.  Day after day.  It's probably also no surprise that being surrounded by a number of intensely passionate foodies lead to a few worthwhile cooking demonstrations!  Simple meals would quickly evolve into five course extravaganzas as we vied with each other to shoe our true passion for food.

It was one sunny evening that we returned home to fire up the BBQ that the kitchen Ninja, Michael, pulled out this amazing marinade for some succulent chicken.  Pulling together Smoked Paprika, Fennel, Garlic and Lemon juice it was a fantastically flavorful marinade.  That marinade formed the inspiration of this dish.

Served on a bed of spinach the chicken is paired with a perfectly petite individual Tortilla, or Spanish omlette. And to tie it all together the dish is decorated with some easy peasy paprika oil and some sauteed capsicum and red onion.

This is the type of dish you can easily serve for a fancy lunch when you've got some friends coming over.  Simply prep all your ingredients including the oil, have the tortillas ready to put in the oven, and then finish it once you've all caught up on the week's gossip and are ready for some food.

Fennel spiced Chicken served with Spinach, Tortilla and Paprika Oil

Serves 2
Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 35 min


2 chicken thighs boned (preferably as fast as this guy can with his Whizard trimmer)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp Fennel seeds
1tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Chilli powder
Large Pinch Pepper

150g Potato, peeled
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp cream
20g Butter
2 Medium sized dariole moulds or ramekins

100g Spinach leaves
1 Tbsp Butter
Dash of Olive Oil

1/2 Red Capsicum
1/2 Yellow Capsicum
1/2 Red Onion

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Paprika
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Fresh, Colorful, Tasty


1.  First you need to Marinade your chicken.  Fry the fennel seeds in a dry pan for 1 minute until fragrant.  Crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle.  Add to a shallow bowl along with all the other marinade ingredients and mix well.  Cut slits in the thicker parts of the thighs and try to flatten it until the chicken is an even thickness.This will allow the marinade to penetrate the meat and also make it easier to cook evenly.
2.  Add the chicken to the marinade, ensuring the meat is nicely coated, then place in the fridge for at least an hour but preferably overnight.
3.  Slice the peeled potatoes in half and then cut them into slices about 5mm thick.  Place in a saucepan cover with cold water and then bring to the boil.  Salt the water once boiled and leave the Potatoes to cook for about 8-10 min, until they are tender, but not quite done.  Drain and leave to cool.

4.  Grease four ramekins or dariole moulds then layer the slices of potato into the mould.  Half way to the top season the potatoes, then continue layering.
5.  Whisk together the egg and cream, then season.  Pour the egg mixture into the moulds covering the Potato.
6.  Place a small bit of butter on top of the mix and then place them in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and the egg has cooked through.
7.  Season the chicken thighs with salt and then fry on a medium heat for about 12-15 minutes, turning once until cooked all the way through.  Leave to rest for a few minutes.

8.  Dice the onion and capsicum into small pieces.  Place into a hot frying pan with 1 Tbsp Olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes.  Place to the side.
9.  In the same pan add the 1 Tbsp remaining Olive Oil along with the Paprika and the Tabasco.  Heat gently for 2 minutes and mix well. Remove from the heat.
10.  In a large saucepan melt 1 Tbsp butter and a dash of olive oil.  Add the spinach and then cover with a lid.  After about 2 min the spinach should have wilted.  Season and stir to combine.  Put the spinach in a colander allowing the excess water to drain.
11.  To serve place the spinach on the plate.  Cut the chicken thigh in half and place on top of the spinach.  Run a knife around the cooked Tortilla and remove from the mould onto the dish.  Dress the plate with the paprika oil and then decorate with the capsicum onion mix.  Enjoy.


  1. Oh yum this looks delicious and I love the idea of paprika oil.

    I can't wait until we get the kitchen back and I rediscover the joy of cooking for friends and family. We lost the water a month back, and the stove was disconnected last week; we can't even boil a pot of water! Just as well we are experienced campers...

  2. Gosh Ruby. I'm not sure I could last too long without a kitchen. They took our terminally ill dishwasher away a week ago and that's been bad enough. Hopefully the new kitchen will be worth it all though!