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Chicken and Squash

From the Cook Book | Chicken with Squash


The joy of this dish, taken from the menu at our neighbours 45 Jermyn St, lies in its simplicity.

The spiced relish can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use. Then all you need to do is cook the breast and fennel, and in 20 minutes you have a serious dinner. Perfect, then, for anyone looking to impress but keen to keep things simple this Valentine's.
The ingredients

For the chicken:

4 fennel bulbs; 4 chicken breasts, skin on; 80ml rapeseed oil; salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the butternut squash relish:

4 tablespoons olive oil; 2 shallots, finely diced; 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced; 400g butternut squash, cut into 1cm cubes; 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, roughly crushed; 4 tablespoons Chardonnay vinegar (if you cannot get Chardonnay vinegar, substitute good-quality white wine vinegar and 2 teaspoons of sugar); 20g pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan; 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

The recipe (serves four)

1. First, make the relish. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, then add the shallots and chilli and fry for about 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured.

2. Add the butternut squash cubes and fennel seeds and fry for a couple of minutes longer, then cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender but still holding its shape.

3. Add the vinegar, raise the heat a little and simmer until reduced by about two-thirds. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, then leave to cool. Stir in the pumpkin seeds and flat-leaf parsley, plus a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.

4. Next, trim the fennel bulbs and cut them into quarters if small, eigths if large, making sure the pieces stay attached at the root end.

5. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based frying pan, add the chicken breasts, skin-side down, and cook over a medium heat until golden brown underneath.

6. Turn the breasts over and transfer them to a small roasting tin. Place them in an oven heated 180C (Gas Mark 4) and cook for about 15 minutes, until there is no pinkness inside when you insert a knife.

7. Meanwhile, add the fennel pieces to the pan in which the chicken was browned and cook over a low to medium heat, turning every 5 minutes, until they are golden and tender. Season to taste.

8. Serve the chicken accompanied by the fennel pieces and the butternut squash relish.
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