Poached Chicken Salad with Green Olives, Fennel & Feta
4 chicken thighs, preferably from local pastured chickens
— Kosher salt
— Olive oil
1 small onion or large shallot, quartered
2 or 3 Italian parsley sprigs
2 thin slices of ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
— Boiling water
8 ounces cracked green or Picholine olives, pitted
— Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
2 tablespoons best-quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
— Black pepper in a mill
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 lemon, cut in lengthwise wedges
Set the chicken thighs on a clean work surface and season them all over with salt. Select a saucepan or pot that can hold the chicken in a single layer. Set it over medium heat and pour in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When it is hot, add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook until golden brown, turn over, cook until golden brown on the second side. If they stick when you turn them, cook them a minute or two longer so they are golden and release from the pan.
Add the onion, parsley, ginger, garlic and peppercorns to the pot and pour in boiling water until it covers the thighs by about 2 inches. Increase the heat to high and when the water returns to a boil, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let the chicken thighs sit in the water for 40 minutes and then use tongs to transfer them to a platter to cool.
When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and reserve it for another use or discard it. Pull the meat from the bones, leaving its discrete muscle sections as you pull. (At this point, you should add the bones to the poaching liquid, set the heat on low, and cook it for several hours, until it is reduced to about 2 to 2½ cups of stock. Strain and refrigerate for up to 4 days.)
Put the chicken into a medium bowl. Chop or tear each pitted olive into 2 or 3 pieces and add it to the bowl, along with the lemon zest, chopped parsley and oregano and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss very gently and season lightly with salt and several turns of black pepper.
Put the sliced fennel onto a large platter, add the cheese and toss gently and quickly. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon wedge over the fennel and spread the chicken and olive mixture on top. Drizzle a bit more olive oil over everything and garnish with the remaining lemon wedges.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org