Chicken bouillabaisse with rouille

Serves 4

It may sound strange, but, the substitution of chicken for fish in bouillabaisse works very well – it is less complicated and quicker. However, it still needs to be served with the traditional side dishes of rouille and grilled bread.

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
2 bulbs fennel, tough outer skin removed, and cut into eighths
1 small bunch of thyme, leaves only
The peel of one orange, in thin strips
1/2 tsp saffron
3 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
100ml/31/2fl oz Pernod
250ml/8fl oz dry white wine
300ml/10fl oz water
500g/1lb ripe tomatoes, sliced in half, seeds removed and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 organic, free-range chicken breasts

For the rouille

2 organic eggs, yolks only
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
The juice of half a lemon
1 red chilli, placed over a grill until charred, seeds and skin removed
11/2 tsp Dijon mustard
200ml/7fl oz mild-tasting olive oil
75g/3oz soft white breadcrumbs

First make the rouille. Place the yolks, salt and pepper, lemon juice, chilli and mustard into a food processor. Place the oil in a jug and turn the motor on. Drizzle the oil very slowly through the funnel in the top until all the oil is in, by which time you will have a thick and unctuous, homogenised mayonnaise. Finally, stir in the breadcrumbs and adjust the seasoning – it will not need pepper but almost definitely will need salt.

Now for the bouillabaisse. Place a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, add the olive oil and allow to warm. Add the onion, chilli and a good pinch of salt to the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Now add the fennel, thyme, orange peel, saffron, bay and garlic and cook for a further 10 minutes. Turn the heat up slightly and add the Pernod, wine and water. Allow to reduce by a third. Finally, add the tomatoes and water, and cook until everything is just soft.

While the base is cooking, season the chicken with salt and pepper generously all over. Place a little olive oil into a non-stick frying pan and when really hot, add the chicken breasts, skin-side down. Cook the chicken for two minutes or until golden-brown, then turn and cook the underside for a further minute. Using tongs, remove the breasts from the pan and add to the broth.

Turn the heat to quite low and cook the broth for eight to 10 minutes, by which time the breasts will be cooked through but not tough. Remove the chicken and turn the heat to high so that the flavours will intensify and the liquid reduces slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Return the chicken to the pan to combine with the sauce then serve in warm bowls or on a large platter. Pass the rouille and some grilled bread around separately.

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