Tray baking is probably my favourite way to cook chicken thighs as it's so easy and results in big flavours. The combination of paprika, artichokes and fennel makes this a particularly pleasing dish to look at, as well as seriously tasty. Artichokes are a personal favourite of mine, and in this recipe they act as juicy little sponges, soaking up all the flavours of the marinade. I've always had a slight aversion to fennel due to it's strong aniseed taste but I feel I have now overcome it, thanks to a chance meeting at Parsons Green farmers market. I was browsing the Eden Farms vegetable stall thinking out loud that 'I really want to like fennel but it's just too aniseedy', when a fellow shopper told me that if you roast fennel it removes the strong flavour. So that is what I did and I now feel it my duty to tell others as I will be enjoying this underrated vegetable on a more regular basis! It really does show that if you ask questions, you will get answers.
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
240g good quality artichoke hearts, drained of juices
4 chicken thighs, skin on
2 tsp smoked paprika
Half tsp chilli powder
Half tsp white pepper
3/4 garlic cloves
50ml olive oil
Handful of coriander, chopped
Juice of a small lemon
Pinch of salt
Start with the fennel. Trim the stalks, remove any wilted outer layers, cut the bulbs in half and then the halves into quarters. Pop the fennel in a large mixing bowl.
Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl and combine using your hands. Cover and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Arrange the chicken mixture in a roasting dish, chicken skin side up, and pop in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Check the dish after 30 minutes and cover with some foil if necessary.
Take out of the oven, stir well, taste and add seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately and enjoy the wonderful flavours.