Roasted Five-Spice Chicken Pieces

Fennel bulbs

Fennel bulbs

by Cat, August 23, 2016 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I found this recipe in a Sunset Magazine while I was waiting to see my naturopath. The combination sounds delicious for a fall dinner with leftovers. Plus it is fairly easy to make. It was accompanied by Apple Cream Torte for dessert, which I have also added – as my adaptation – to this recipe blog.

Five-Spice is a Chinese spice mixture that resembles a curry; its name comes from the classic five flavors it contains (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty), not five specific spices. It is best to grind and mix up the Five-Spice right before using for the best flavor; see Herbs & Spices: Curries and Blends for more.

The chicken recipe includes fennel (as pictured above), tart apples, onion, and sweet potatoes, all roasted together.

See also: 1. Poultry Menu; 2. Five-Spice blend

Roasted Five-Spice Chicken

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Sunset Magazine, September 2016 issue (1). I’ve not changed it much; rather adapted some of the ingredients for my preferences. The original recipe serves 3 – 6 and is great as leftovers.

Ingredients & Equipment

Corning Ware French White, 1.5 Quart, Shallow Oval Casserole

Corning Ware French White, 1.5 Quart, Shallow Oval Casserole

(Image, right, from Corning Ware (2))

  • 6 bone-in thighs, brined or not, or mix of pieces such as thighs and breasts (note, if brined, only salt the veggies and apples)
  • 1 small fennel bulb with feathery leaves
  • ¾ lb. yams or sweet potatoes
  • 1 ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt, divided
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly (optional)
  • 2 large firm and tart apple (such as Granny Smith)
  • 2 Tbsp real butter, melted
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • 1 ½ tsp five-spice blend
  • Equipment
  • rimmed baking sheet or shallow baking pan that can withstand 425°F
  • Turkey- or bulb-baster
  • tiny bowl


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (400°F if using Corning Ware pan). Oil baking sheet/pan.
  2. Prep: Brine chicken if desired (I recommend it as it helps the meat to retain moisture).
  3. Veggies: Fennel: Cut off stalks and reserve some of the feathery leaves for serving. Trim base of fennel bulb, remove each layer of the bulb and cut each into 1½” strips, lengthwise OR cut them crosswise into ½” crescents. Set aside. Sweet potatoes/yams: Peel, then slice crosswise into ¼” slices. Onion: remove dry skin, then slice it lengthwise into ½” slices; garlic: remove dry papery skin, then slice thinly.
  4. Apples: Wash but don’t peel. Cut in half, lengthwise and remove the core. Then slice lengthwise into ¼” wedges.
  5. Five-spice mixture: Combine melted butter, honey, five-spice, and ½ tsp of the salt
  6. Arrange potatoes and fennel in a single layer; season with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Arrange onion and apple over and season with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper.
  7. Arrange thighs on top of veggies, skin-side up. Brush them with the five-spice mixture.
  8. Roast in preheated oven 15-20 minutes. Then tilt pan and baste all with juices.
  9. Continue to roast until chicken is browned and no longer pink at the bone (to 160° – 165°F without touching bone), about 15 – 20 minutes more (1-hour more if roasting at 400°F (for Corning Ware casserole).
  10. Baste again, thens scatter fennel leaves on top and serve.


Testing Aug 25, 2016: Made as written, using 4 thighs and one large half-breast cut in half crosswise. Brined all pieces. Prepped veggies and Granny Smith apples as written. I don’t like the way the fennel looks when cut this way (cut bulb lengthwise into ¼” – ½” wedges). In future I will remove each layer of the bulb and cut each into ½” strips, lengthwise OR cut them crosswise into ¼” crescents; recipe updated accordingly. Made five-spice mixture as written. Used shallow Corning Ware casserole (pictured above); the veggies filled it to the top, so my pieces of chicken barely fit on top. I placed a baking sheet on a lower rack below the casserole to catch drippings. I didn’t pre-heat oven to 425°F, rather about 300°F before placing combo in oven (to protect my casserole from the shock of the higher heat), then increased heat to 400°F (as for Corning Ware); when it reached temperature, I roasted 20 minutes more before basting, but there was not yet any liquid in the pan so I added a bit of water and roasted another 10 minutes before basting. Not sure how long, total, it took until breasts tested done (165°F), about 1 hour. Thighs and veggies were not quite done, so removed breasts to keep warm, and continued to cook thighs and apple-veggie combo another 20 minutes. Result: The taste is quite delicious; the apple-veggie mix is excellent with the chicken, but the sweet potatoes cooked faster than the fennel, onion and apple slices. Next time, slice the sweet potatoes thicker, perhaps ½”.


  1. Sunset Magazine does not yet have this recipe on their website, but it is available on My Recipes site:
  2. image:®-1.5-qt-shallow-oval-casserole/1071981.html 

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