Rachel Allen’s Leek and Fennel Roast Chicken


More cooking (yep, those restaurant reviews are still percolating) – and while this dish looks unspectacular it’s incredibly tasty and easy to do.

If you’re a cook who’s a little frightened by the idea of roasting a whole chicken, or just someone a bit short on prep time (that’s me!) then this dish is fantastic because it’s quick, requires just the one dish (the one it’s cooked in) and can be all prepped in advance, meaning you just need to put it in the oven about 50 minutes before you want to eat.

This is a Rachel Allen recipe that has been on my to-do list for ages. As is so often the case, the cooking time given is woefully inadequate and, with the oven up so high, you do need to be wary of the vegetables in particular burning. However, that is easily solved by popping a lid on part way through cooking. This has the bonus of creating some very tasty sauce that can be served with the dish.

Sadly, it is a bit anaemic looking (not just the fault of my photography this time!). If you were so inclined you could flash the chicken thighs on a grill pan prior to serving (being careful not to dry them out though!) but I suggest that if you’re particularly worried about appearance, serve it with a bright winter salad.

Potato-wise, we used the most beautiful, tiny kipfler potatoes that Andy picked up in Blackwood from the excellent Waggon Wheels (no website). This always busy fruit and vege shop stocks all the standards but also manages to squeeze in a range of varieties that you won’t find in supermarkets or even other fruit and vege shops. It’s one of my favourite places to buy veggies.

Do not be tempted to omit (or peel!) the cloves of garlic. After cooking, the skin comes away easily and the garlic cloves are so soft and so mellow in flavour that they add real depth and warmth to the finished product.

This was a big hit – and if you need to throw something together over Easter, I recommend it.

Quantities below are for 2 people, with tons of leftovers.

Rachel Allen’s Leek and Fennel Roast Chicken


  • 4 chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 bulb of fennel
  • 1 large leek
  • 6-8 large cloves of garlic, skin on
  • 8-10 small potatoes
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C fan (220°C conv).
  2. Take a large baking/roasting dish - preferably one that has a lid - and put a splash of olive oil in the bottom.
  3. Chop the leek into 1-2 cm chunks and roughly chop the fennel.
  4. If the potatoes are not evenly sized, cut them into even sized pieces. You want them reasonably small (smaller than a golf ball) so they cook!
  5. Add leek, fennel and potatoes to the baking dish with the garlic, season and toss through the olive oil.
  6. Finally add the chicken thighs and toss through, ensuring they are also coated in oil.
  7. Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure that nothing is burning and then cover with lid and bake for another 20 or so minutes, until the chicken and potatoes are cooked.
  8. Serve hot on its own or with a garden salad.

Pork Fillet with Fennel and Apple Salad

Pork Fillet with Apples, Fennel & Creamed Feta

My previously blogged easy pork fillet recipe has been a popular page over the last month so let’s revisit this excellent cut of meat but cook it in a slightly different way.

This is another recipe I’ve had on my to do list for a couple of years, and it comes from the website of the UK version of Delicious. The choice was actually driven by the fact that I’d picked up a bulb of fennel for just 99c and so I was looking for a way to use it.

I love fennel when it’s handled as little as possible so the light warm salad that accompanies the pork fillet in this dish is a perfect way to showcase the vegetable. This was very much a recipe where the finished product is much greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s also a lot more sophisticated (in both appearance and taste) than it is work to put together.

We had a piece of pork fillet that was about 400g (yes, the original recipe says that will serve 4 – this served 2 + a toddler – perhaps our toddler eats a lot …). Leave the meat in one piece but trim off any sinew. In a bowl mix a small amount of olive oil with one fat, finely chopped clove of garlic and 2 tsp of fennel seeds. Season and add the pork fillet. Ensure the pork is well coated in the mix. I see no reason why you couldn’t do this in advance, but there’s no need to leave the meat marinating.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sear the pork on all sides (remember – the pan should be good and hot and no prodding and poking of the meat – it will come away from the pan, even if it’s not a non stick pan, when it’s good and ready). Transfer the pork to a small roasting dish and cook in an oven preheated to 200°C fan. I cooked the pork for 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes resting time and it was almost spot on (if anything it was a touch over).

While the pork is cooking in the oven, wipe out the frying pan and prepare the salad. Using a mandolin (or slice finely) slice half a medium sized bulb of fennel, and then finely slice a small red apple (you want the red skin so it looks pretty!).

Toast a handful of pine nuts in a separate pan and mix them with the apple and fennel.  Drizzle over some olive oil and lemon juice and add the mix to the pan you used for the pork.  Warm over a gentle heat.

Finally make some creamed feta.  Use 100g of feta (buy Australian!) and begin with 2 tbsp of cream.  Because I used thick pure cream I actually had to add more.  Season and whizzy up in a small food processor or using a stab mixer.  Ideally you want it to be quite loose so you may want to add some milk if your cream is too thick.

To serve, I boiled some potatoes, crushed them on warm plates, spooned over some creamed feta, topped with the apple and fennel mix and finish with the pork, with a bit more creamed feta.

This was absolutely delicious.  The fennel seeds on the pork complemented the fennel in the salad and there was a good balance of flavours and textures (from a texture point of view it’s very important not to overdo the salad – you want it softened and warm but still with a bit of bite).

Definitely a recipe we’ll be using again and again.

Fennel and Vegetable Soup Recipe


I’m not really sorry to be posting another soup recipe:  it is cold and this one is incredibly easy and quick.

There’s no blitzing and I reckon it was ready for the table in under half an hour. Plus, it makes use of a very seasonal (and that means CHEAP!) ingredient: fennel.

The original recipe is a fennel minestrone, by Arthur Potts Dawson, an eco friendly British chef.

I tweaked quantities quite a bit and also thought that it would be far easier to chop the vegetables, rather than grate them (grating creates washing up!). I was also concerned that if the vegetables were grated the finished product could look a bit … mushy.

To begin – heat some olive oil in your favourite soup making pan and gently sauté 1 finely chopped leek.

I had one giant fennel (bought for the princely sum of 98 cents!) so I cut that in half – which worked out at about 400g of fennel (yes, it was huge) – and roughly chopped it, and then added to the leek.

I then added two handfuls of risoni pasta (I have small hands). I happened to have risoni but you could use any shape or break up spaghetti or fettucine. Really – put in as much as you want but remember that it does expand when it cooks and it will thicken up the soup.

Finally, add stock (I used some chicken stock we had leftover!) and cook. You only need to cook until the pasta is done which is what makes this soup so quick.

Add a coarsely chopped courgette/zucchini about 5 minutes before you’re ready to serve – you don’t want that to turn to mush.

Dawson’s recipe uses a pangritata to finish the dish but I really couldn’t be bothered going outside. However, I did have a jar of pesto open in the fridge, so I stirred a generous teaspoon of that through my bowl.

Finally, a sprinkle of pepper and salt and you have a super healthy, super cheap and super tasty meal in under 30 minutes. No excuses for takeaway!