9.09.2017

Family Style

When I was growing up, I didn't know that our style of serving meals growing up had a name. I know it as family style now but, then, it was just the way Mom and Dad did it. It wasn't necessarily a daily thing, but I know for sure it was served that way every Sunday evening.

Dad would carve the meat and place a slice on the first of a stack of plates. The plate got passed to Mom, who would add the side dishes, and then it would get passed to one of us four boys.

For us, that was family style. I have also had dinners served to me family style where the plates were set out at each place, and the platters and bowls of food were circulated among all the guests.

On occasion, we will serve dinner family style. While I like to plate a meal and make it look beautiful when I present it, sometimes a dish will look better when presented on a platter, leaving it to the guests to decorate their plates accordingly.

Also, since I tend to serve large helpings, family style allows the guests to take as much or little as like.

Today's recipe, only slightly adapted from the Ottolenghi original, is one such dish. It looks absolutely gorgeous on a platter - juicy wedges of fennel and bright orange slices of clementine tucked in between deep brown chicken pieces.

And it tastes as good as it looks. The combination of flavors is startling, seductive, and even those who don’t love fennel/licorice flavored foods, find they like this dish.

The original recipe calls for a whole chicken cut into serving pieces. My preference, and the version I give you here, is for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.

Some things I have learned from serving family style: first, don't use heavy platters - they are difficult for people to pass. If necessary, use two smaller platters to make it easier on everyone.

Second, make sure you have sufficient "landing room" at the table for the platters beside each diner - nothing more awkward than trying to serve with one hand while holding a heavy platter in the other.

Third, if your platters are too heavy or really hot, consider putting them on trivets near you and serving like my Mom and Dad did. You still get the wow factor when they see the platter coming out, and you keep the informal, comfortable feeling of family.

~ David

Chicken with Fennel and Clementines
Yotam Ottolenghi, minimally adapted from Jerusalem 

6 1/2 tablespoons Ouzo
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly Ground Pepper
2 medium fennel bulbs, each cut into 8 wedges
8 organic chicken thighs, with skin and bone
6 clementines, unpeeled, sliced thin
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly crushed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together arak, oil, orange and lemon juices, mustard, brown sugar and salt. Season with pepper, to taste. Add fennel, chicken, clementine slices, thyme and crushed fennel seeds. Turn several times to coat. If time allows marinate chicken for several hours or, preferably, overnight.

Preheat oven to 475°F. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a large roasting pan. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Lift chicken, fennel and clementines onto a serving platter. Cover and keep warm.

Pour cooking liquid into a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer until sauce is reduced. Pour heated sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley and serve with a side of rice.

The recipe says it serves 4 but, depending on the size of the thighs, this can easily serve 8.

29 comments:

  1. Our family style wasn't quite like yours. Ours was simply laid with all the dishes and we helped ourselves. And there was always, and I mean ALWAYS multiple plates of fresh green chillies to dip into salt and bite off as you eat.

    I'm one to use skin-on bone-in thighs, like you. So much more flavour, and that skin makes it all the better. Lovely dish, David.

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    1. Wow - I wish our family style included the chiles, John! As a funny side note, when my brothers (never me!) used inappropriate language, they were punished by putting Tabasco sauce on their tongues. Needless to say, they all love spicy foods now!

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  2. I think i recognize this one! It is delicious.

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  3. David,
    In Tuscany now, about to pluck some of the last of the "fiche" to make your fig thyme jam. Now, you've inspired me to make a vegetarian version of this gorgeous dish. Think I'll serve it on a bed of mixed grains. The mercato is tomorrow here in Chiusi and I will be further inspired by all the farm fresh produce. But, I must also get one of the rotisserie chickens for myself as they are outstanding. And some pecorino di Pienza of course! As always, thanks for your delicious posts.

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    1. Linda - how wonderful that you are enjoying your time in Tuscany, and that you have made the best of the fresh figs! We just had two large chucks of pecorino from Pienza - just heaven!! A vegetarian version of this would be great - and you could add bits of the rostisserie chicken, if you want! I would love to hear more about Chiusi - it is a place I haven't visited yet.

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  4. I'll bet this would work well with pork tenderloin. Looks great!
    Bruce Baer

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  5. When I was growing up the meals were never served up in anything like a family style and maybe that's why I like to serve them that way as an old person (I hesitate to claim being an adult). This is definitely my kind of meal and suits my current obsession with the flavour of fennel very well.

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    1. I, too, hate to be called "an adult," Phil... but, like you, am definitely old! Fennel is the best - a good obsession for sure!

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  6. I am one of those who don't like fennel. But my sister let me taste something with fennel recently that I actually liked. So there is hope! I will say that it is pretty (even if the fennel intimidates me).

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    1. Inger - I served this to one of my fennel-hating friends, not realizing she didn't like it, and it ended up changing her opinion of Fennel!

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  7. This looks wonderful and I love the sound of those ingredients together, it sounds delicious.

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  8. A beautiful post. And a gorgeous meal. Fennel is still not my favorite... I need to work on that!

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    1. Me, too, Mimi - and three varieties of Fennel all in one recipe!

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  9. I love the idea of fennel and orange together.

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  10. I'm speechless....now looking at flights to Tucson.

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  11. David, growing up our family of six had dinner together every day, but with all the food in serving dishes on the table. Not as "posh" as having a stack of plates and the roast by dad for carving and passing to mom for serving up the vegetables - or so *my* dad would've thought! Actually, I think he probably just thought that carving the roast was part of the cook's job, and he never cooked until years later. This looks good - and I'm with you on just using the thighs.

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    1. Funny, Jean, I never think if it as "posh" - just a Dad/Mom thing!

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  12. I wish we made more time to do family-style dinners, David. I really need to get more organized and make it a goal for us, we enjoy it so much when we actually get to sit down together! Dinner is so much more enjoyable and relaxed this way. This dish has wonderful ingredients and I just know it was delicious. I'm also sure it smelled amazing while it was cooking!!

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    1. It's so hard today - kids are so much busier than we were when we were kids! But you obviously do a good job of making family time a priority, Marcelle!

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  13. Hi David, love Ottolenghi's recipes and the spices he uses, love fennel. Great tips about the serving platters, back in AZ have a few platters that are so heavy that they can't be passed around:)

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    1. Isn't it funny about heavy serving platters, Cheri? As I get older, they get harder to pass!

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  14. We always had family style dinners on the farm in Germany. Mostly simple meals with little meat . Lunch was the warm meal. Later, as I raised my own family we would have dinner together. A tuna fish sandwich was often dinner but we ate it together. Your dish looks wonderful David, I wish my husband would like fennel. Have a great time in Tuscany.

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    1. When I lived in Germany, it was the first time I was introduced to the midday meal as the main meal, with a light supper in the evening. I like it and, when we travel, that is often how we eat!

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  15. A delicious looking dish, David. My partner loves licorice especially and I'm sure he'll love this dish. Your photos and recipes are so lovely. Also, thanks for sharing tips on serving family style. Best wishes!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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