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Chicken Bouillabaisse Burgers With Orange-Saffron Mayonnaise & Orange-Grilled Fennel on Garlic Crostini

I found chicken to be a less expensive alternative to the traditional bouillabaisse.

Ingredients 

FOR ORANGE-SAFFRON MAYONNAISE:

½ scant teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

2 ½ teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup good-quality jarred (or homemade) mayonnaise

1 medium clove garlic, peeled, minced

4 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

Pinch of sea or kosher salt

FOR CHICKEN PATTIES:

2 1/4 pounds freshly ground chicken

½ cup rough chopped shallots

4 cloves garlic, peeled, minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

½ cup dried breadcrumbs

1/4 cup rough chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1/4 cup reserved orange-saffron mayonnaise

1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoon frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

2 teaspoons sea salt

3/4 teaspoon medium-grind black pepper

1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons fennel seeds, if desired, toasted, ground or crushed **

FOR ORANGE-GRILLED FENNEL:

4 medium-sized fennel bulbs, tops removed, rinsed & dried, sliced into rings

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (recommended: Colavita)

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest

½ teaspoon fennel seeds, if desired, toasted, ground or crushed

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus as needed for brushing the slices of bread

12 (1/2-inch-thick) slices French sourdough bread, about 3 ½ x 5-inch slices

2 large cloves peeled garlic, halved crosswise

3 cups hearts of romaine lettuce, rough-chopped

6 large glasses of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc Wine and, additional as needed

Instructions 

Prepare the orange-saffron mayonnaise. In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in the orange juice concentrate and lemon juice for a minimum of 20 minutes, and up to l hour. When soaked, mix in mayonnaise, garlic, parsley and salt; stir until well combined. Reserve 1/4 cup; set aside. Cover remaining mayonnaise mixture and chill until needed.

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high, or prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover.

Prepare chicken patties. Spread ground chicken in a large shallow baking pan. In a bowl of a large covered food processor, chop the shallots, garlic and thyme leaves together, scraping sides of the bowl down as necessary, until finely chopped; sprinkle over the chicken; gently mix. Add breadcrumbs, parsley, reserved 1/4 cup orange saffron mayonnaise, lemon juice, orange juice concentrate, sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix together well, handling the mixture as little as possible to avoid compacting it. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties to fit the bread slices making a slight indentation in the center of each patty with your thumb, which allows the patties to cook without "puffing up" in the middle. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds evenly over both sides of the chicken patties. Place on a large parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

For orange grilled fennel, place the fennel rings in a medium-sized bowl; toss with the orange juice, oil and salt. Place the fennel rings in a grill basket, and grill, shaking the basket frequently until softened, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the fennel to a sheet of foil, sprinkle with orange zest and fennel seeds; wrap to keep warm.

When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with canola oil. Place the patties on the rack; cover, and cook, turning once, just until the juices run clear when the patties are pierced in the center, about 4 minutes on each side. While the patties cook, lightly brush about 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil over each side of the bread slices. During the last two or three minutes of cooking the patties, arrange slices of bread on the outer edges of the grill rack; lightly toast, about 1 minute per side. Rub both sides of each toast with garlic.

Assemble the chicken burgers; remove orange-saffron mayonnaise from the refrigerator, uncover, and evenly spread mayonnaise mixture over one side of each bottom toast. Top each with a chicken burger, ½ cup romaine lettuce, and equal portions of the orange-grilled fennel, then toast tops. Place each on a serving plate (or all on a large serving platter;) halve on the diagonal and serve each with a large glass or two of Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc or your favorite Sutter Home Wine.

Yield: 6 servings.

Comments 

* For freshly ground chicken, 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, and 3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat, all cut into approximately 1-inch pieces, processed in food processor fitted with a steel blade until finely chopped and fairly smooth with consistency of hamburger meat.

** To toast fennel seeds, place in a small fireproof skillet on un-greased grill grate over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate to cool. Pound the seeds to a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle, or crush in plastic bag with mallet.