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Splayed Chicken with Fennel & Preserved Lemon

Splayed chicken

Splaying the chicken is a trick that will help the chicken cook more evenly and avoid the dreaded dry chicken breast.  Don't miss the amazing flavors from fennel and olives in this simple roast chicken. 

To get the best results use a great quality extra virgin olive oil, we love Colavita

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4Servings


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2-3 fennel bulbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, such as Colavita
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • ½ lemon, cut into 2 wedges vertically 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled (optional)
  • handful of parsley and/or cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet   
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of green olives 
  • 1 preserved lemon, quartered and seeds removed 


1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Place chicken on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the skin connecting the legs to the body. Splay the thighs open until you feel the joint pop on each side. Sprinkle the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Let it rest uncovered at room temperature while oven heats.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the fennel. Peel off the outer layer or two from the bulbs, and cut off the thickest part (but not all) of the base, then cut into quarters.

4. In a small bowl, mix the ginger, turmeric, and saffron with ½ cup water and ½ cup wine, set aside.

5. Pour 1 tablespoon oil into the base of a 6 quart Dutch oven. Place it on the stove over high heat. Once hot carefully transfer the chicken, breast-side up, to the pot and brown on both sides. Remove chicken and set aside.

6. Add the onions, fennel, and garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss until lightly browned.

7. Push the vegetables to the side of the pot and place the chicken in the center.

8. Put 2 lemon wedges inside the chicken breast cavity. Pour ginger mixture over chicken and add preserved lemon and olives.

9. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 55 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve out of the pot.