Grilled Chicken with Fennel Sauce and Charred Tomato Bread

Garlic-infused olive oil is the base for a thick herb sauce for grilled chicken. Serve with charred bread covered with a garlic paste, tomato and more. Try a grilled chicken salad with any leftovers!


  • 2 bulbs garlic, cloves lightly cracked and peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil  (EVOO)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 small sprig rosemary
  • 1 bulb fennel, cored and sliced, 2 tablespoons fronds finely chopped and reserved
  • 1 small Meyer lemon or 1/2 organic lemon, sliced
  • Chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped, plus additional for garnish
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 fresh Fresno chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped or 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons thyme, chopped
  • Scallions, thinly sliced on an angle, garnish
  • 1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, charred on the grill or grill pan
  • 1 ripe tomato, halved


Place the garlic cloves in a small pot; cover with the EVOO and add the bay and rosemary. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and gently cook the cloves to golden and sweet, about 18-20 minutes. Cool and remove the bay and rosemary. Separate the garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon and paste it. Reserve the flavored oil and the garlic paste. Note: This garlic confit is a quick path to the sweetness and tamed flavor of roasted garlic. It’s great as a paste on toast, incorporated into sweet, fresh tomato and basil sauce and as used here, as a base for a thick sauce and as the flavored oil base for a marinade for meat or fish.

Cover the sliced fennel and lemon slices with water (or chicken or vegetable stock), just enough to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer to very tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add all the fennel and the lemon slices to a blender, 2 tablespoons of the garlic paste, the reserved fennel-lemon water, lemon juice, Dijon, about 1/4-1/3 cup of the reserved garlic oil, and the tarragon, salt and pepper. Puree to form a smooth, thick sauce; reserve. Add a splash more water as necessary, until just pourable.

Dress the chicken with the garlic-infused oil, just enough to coat. Season the chicken with fennel seed, salt, pepper, the chili pepper and thyme. Grill over medium to medium-high heat for about 12 minutes.

Slice the chicken on angle, top with the sauce and garnish with the scallions, fennel fronds and tarragon. Slather the charred bread with garlic paste and rub tomato into the bread. Cut into pieces and serve alongside the chicken.

This is one of many “Yum-o!” recipes – it’s good and good for you. To find out more about Yum-o!, Rachael’s nonprofit organization, visit

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Rachael Ray