Make the most of fragrant fennel in this traditional French ragout. Frying succulent chicken thighs until golden, cooking slowly in a white wine and fennel broth and finishing off with soft cheese and dill, gives a hearty chicken stew that's packed with fresh spring flavour.
Preheat the oven to gas 7, 220°C, fan 200°C. In a roasting tin, toss the potatoes with 1 tbsp of oil, the fennel seeds and the lemon zest. Season well. Roast for 40 minutes, shaking the tin halfway through.
Dust the chicken using half the flour; season well. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a cast-iron casserole dish or a large, lidded frying pan over a medium-high heat. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden, then transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then fry the fennel for 5 minutes.
Scatter the remaining flour over the fennel and toss to coat. Stir in the wine and stock, scraping up any meaty bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the chicken and any juices to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and soft cheese with a little more seasoning. Scatter over the dill and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Shred the chicken using two forks, then scatter over the fennel fronds. Serve with the roasted potatoes.
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