It started with a basket of kumquats at the market. They looked so cute, I had to buy them.

I had had a chicken-fennel dish at a Spanish restaurant in Philadelphia. I’d already gotten chicken thighs and fennel so I thought I could incorporate the kumquats into a similar dish. There was spinach in the restaurant dish but my husband doesn’t like the texture of cooked spinach so I picked up some kale instead. Instead of getting limp and kind of slimy, it keeps it’s curly looks, even when cooked enough to be very tender.

I like to use bone-in chicken thighs. The bones add a lot of flavor on their own, and the dark meat can be braised long enough to absorb lots of flavor from the cooking juices without drying out. I leave the skin on as well. It too adds flavor, and can easily be removed at the table by those who prefer skinless poultry.

Spanish smoked paprika is now pretty widely available. It might be called pimenton, the Spanish term for this wonderfully aromatic seasoning. It’s available in hot or sweet. I mostly use the sweet form but if you like a little more spice, you can certainly substitute the hot variety.

If you don’t have sherry wine vinegar, I’d advise you to pick up a bottle. It’s got a full round flavor that also makes a great vinaigrette or a condiment drizzled over grilled meats. However in a pinch, red wine vinegar could be substituted.

I served it in a flat soup bowl on top of creamy mashed potatoes, but if you prefer, a rice pilaf would also make a nice accompaniment. A crisp green salad is all you need to make it a lovely meal. Overall, I must say it was a wonderful dish and I will be making it again.


12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
8 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 12-oz. bag frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 bulb fennel, white part, cored and slivered
1 tbsp. Spanish sweet smoked paprika
½ cup sherry wine vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup kumquats, sliced
1 bunch kale, stems removed, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350o. Sprinkle the chicken with plenty of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken very well on the skin side, then turn and brown the underside. As they brown, remove them to a baking dish just large enough to hold all the pieces in one layer.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet. Lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic and stir a couple of times. Add the pearl onions and fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the smoked paprika and stir to cover all the vegetables.

Add the vinegar and cook until reduced by about half. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and pour over the chicken. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and add the kumquats. Add the kale, pushing it down into the liquid. Cover again and bake another 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is very tender. This can be then kept in a 250o oven for up to an hour, until ready to serve. Serves 6 to 8.

NOTE: Kumquats should be available until at least the end of March.

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