Roast Chicken with Pickled Fennel and Candied Walnuts

The tart fennel and sweet walnuts here make this roast chicken especially good. The orange dressing has nutty flavor, too, because it’s spiked with walnut oil. Slideshow:  More Chicken Recipes 

Roast Chicken with Pickled Fennel and Candied Walnuts
Photo: © Tara Pearce
Active Time:
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins



  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fine sea salt

  • One 3-pound chicken, refrigerated uncovered overnight (see Note)

  • Kosher salt

  • 4 thyme sprigs

  • 4 dill sprigs

  • Wide strips of zest from 1 medium orange

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 fennel bulb—halved, cored and thinly sliced lengthwise


  • 1 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1/4 cup Chardonnay vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/3 cup canola oil

  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • 1 medium navel orange

  • 2 small heads of radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces

  • 1/4 cup minced dill, plus more for garnish

  • Candied Walnuts, for serving


Prepare the chicken

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the sea salt into 4 1/2 cups of water until dissolved. Add the chicken and cover with a plate, pressing so the chicken is submerged in the brine. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Transfer the chicken to a rack, pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate for 1 hour more.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425°. Season the chicken inside and out with kosher salt. Fill the cavity with the thyme, dill and orange zest. Tie the legs with kitchen twine. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the oil. Add the chicken, breast side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until the bird is browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total; spoon off the excess fat. Roast in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°. Tent with foil; let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pickled fennel

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, salt and cloves. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 5 minutes. Transfer the sliced fennel to a heatproof bowl and pour the hot brine over it. Press plastic wrap on the fennel so it’s submerged and marinate at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.

Make the orange dressing

  1. In a saucepan, simmer the orange juice over moderately high heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/3 cup, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the oils in a slow, steady stream. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.

  2. Using a sharp knife, peel the orange, being sure to remove any bitter pith. Cut between the membranes to release the sections into a bowl. Add the radicchio and the 1/4 cup of dill. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the pickled fennel and add to the radicchio with the Candied Walnuts and 1/4 cup of the orange dressing; toss well.

  3. Transfer the salad to a platter. Carve the chicken and arrange on the salad. Garnish with dill and serve, passing the remaining dressing at the table.

Make Ahead

The pickled fennel can be refrigerated in its brine for 5 days.


Refrigerating the chicken uncovered overnight dries out the skin so it’s crisper once it’s roasted. Refrigerate the bird on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet.

Suggested Pairing

Pair this dish with a restrained California Chardonnay.

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