Parmesan and fennel braised chicken bruschetta with saffron cream

Bruschetta is an iconic Italian appetiser. Simple grilled bread, drizzled with fruity olive oil and topped with fresh seasonal ingredients. While our version wanders away from the traditional, the combination of sharp, nutty parmesan, earthy fennel-infused chicken and a delicate saffron cream, makes it the perfect autumn bite. A versatile menu addition, served for lunch, as a bar snack, or entrée.



3h 15m





  • 750ml pure cream
  • 50g cultured butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1/2 tsp fennel powder
  • Pinch saffron, toasted
  • 60g parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 500g chicken breast, diced
  • 60ml olive oil
  • Couple of generous grinds of black pepper
  • 2 tsps cooking salt
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 125ml white wine vinegar
  • 100g Tomberries or small vine ripened cherry tomatoes
  • 8 thick slices wood fired sourdough
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled


  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Smoked salt or sea salt flakes
  • 80g shaved parmesan
  • Fennel pollen or lemon zest powder, optional


1. To make the saffron cream

Put cream and butter with the sea salt and fennel into a wide saucepan (you are after surface area to allow for evaporation). Heat over a medium heat bringing to a gentle simmer (do not let it boil). Crumble in the saffron and stir frequently with a silicone spatula (you want to avoid any cream catching on the bottom of the pan) for 20 minutes, or until the cream has reduced by half. Remove from heat and stir through the parmesan until combined. Pour into a wide container – again the more surface area the better. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, overnight is best.

2. To make the fennel braised chicken

Take the top stalks and fronds off the fennel (reserve some of the prettier fronds for garnish), rinse and very finely chop. Add to a bowl with the cumin and fennel seeds, lemon zest, chicken and olive oil, toss to combine, making sure the chicken is well coated. Season with black pepper. Cover, refrigerate for at least an hour to marinate (overnight will give you the best results). While the chicken is marinating, make the fennel quickle. Bring 125ml water to the boil, add the cooking salt and sugar, stir until dissolved, remove from heat and add the vinegar. Thinly slice the fennel bulb on a mandolin, put into a container, pour over the warm vinegar, set aside until needed (refrigerate if preparing in advance).

3. To cook the chicken

To cook the chicken (remove from the fridge about 20 minutes before cooking – depending on the room temperature) heat a large fry pan over a medium high heat, season the chicken with a generous pinch of salt, add to the pan and sauté until golden.

4. To serve

In a separate pan, blister the tomatoes. Toast the sourdough on a griddle or chargrill (brushing with a little olive oil if desired), until golden, lightly rub the top of the toast with the garlic clove. Spread the bruschetta with a generous slick of saffron cream, top with chicken, fennel quickle, tomatoes, then finish with shaved parmesan, fennel fronds and fennel pollen or lemon powder if using.

TIP: The cream is best made a day ahead. Left over cream can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days.

As seen in autumn 2022

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