Not for the faint, but this dish is a flavor saint. An indulgence of fennel orchestrates the sweet tone of this dish, with peppery chicken supplying the undertones, capers the staccato notes, and kale lends a healthy pitch. None of this would be possible without rice setting the stage for this palate play.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, chopped (about 2 cups)
¼ cup fennel fronds, finely chopped
4 cipollini onions, skin removed and chopped in half
(can substitute 1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped)
2 tbsp garlic, minced
¾ pound skinless chicken breasts, deboned, cut in ½ inch cubes
1 cup Delta Belle or Missimati Bayou Bouquet Fragrant White Rice
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp black pepper, fresh ground, divided
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
4 tbsp capers
2 tbsp basil, fresh chopped
1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
¼ cup caper liquor from caper jar
2 cups red Russian kale, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
In large sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp oil. Toss chicken in half of black and cayenne pepper to coat well, and sauté chicken until brown and cooked through. Set aside.
Warm chicken stock in 4 cup microwaveable measuring cup in microwave for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Add 1 tbsp oil to sauté pan, and add chopped fennel bulb, onion, and garlic. Sauté until fennel softened. Add rice and blend well to coat kernels with oil. Stir for 2 or 3 minutes to toast rice until slightly nutty aroma evident. Add wine to deglaze pan, stirring frequently until wine is absorbed by rice. Add previously sautéed chicken, and quickly stir in capers and caper liquor, remaining black pepper, basil, and Herbes de Provence; stir until caper liquor absorbed. Add 1 cup of warmed chicken stock and stir frequently until liquid absorbed by rice. Repeat by adding another cup of warmed stock, stirring until nearly absorbed. Add another ½ cup of stock, 2/3 of chopped fennel fronds, and chopped kale, blending well to incorporate.
Begin checking rice for doneness, to be cooked to al dente. If still with a slightly crunchy center and stock is absorbed, add remaining ½ cup of chicken stock. When necessary stock is absorbed and rice cooked, blend in cream until mixed well, then add Parmesan cheese until well incorporated. Plate, garnish with some remaining fennel fronds, and enjoy!