At Whole Foods there was an explosion of root vegetables on display. Apparently the whole world has noticed that they are simply delicious when roasted in a big pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I bought two really beautiful fresh bulbs of fennel, red and white sweet onions, and then paid just .99 cent per pound for organic Bell & Evans chicken leg thigh pieces. My shopping cart was magically assembling the ingredients for a Sunday dinner I remember having at Grandma’s house called Chicken Pinnocchio.

I pulled out my Italian Vegetable cookbook, and while looking for flavor combinations for my version of roasted chicken and fennel, I learned that the word for fennel bulb in Italian is Finocchio. All these years I thought it was Chicken Pinocchio when it was in all reality Chicken Finocchio… or probably Pollo Finocchio.

Grandma's Chicken Pinnocchio

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Grandma’s Chicken Pinnocchio
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • One lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Whole fennel seed
  1. In your big heavy roasting pan, arrange fresh fennel, onion, potatoes, and chicken - drizzle with olive oil, squeeze in the juice of one lemon and toss well so everything is coated - then sprinkle the chicken and vegetables with kosher or sea salt, black pepper, ½ teaspoon fennel seed, throw in the lemon halves.
  2. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 60 to 75 minutes, until everything is soft and golden with crisped edges.