- 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 pound fennel (white or light green bulb only), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 baby bella mushrooms, quartered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2 percent milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese
- 1 cup Panera Bread Three Cheese bread crumbs from a 4-inch-by-5-inch chunk of bread
1. Move oven rack to top third of oven. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Mix chicken, fennel, and mushrooms in a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Toss to coat evenly. Roast in top third of oven, turning once or twice, just until chicken is no longer pink and fennel is almost tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Scrape into a 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with chopped scallions.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Gradually whisk in half-and-half until smooth and bubbly. Cook until thick, like gravy, about 2 minutes. Stir in thyme and pour over chicken mixture.
5. Grind bread into crumbs in a food processor (you should have about 1 cup crumbs). Add Asiago and pulse until mixed. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture evenly over top and bake until bubbly and golden, about 35 minutes.
TIP: We use half-and-half to give the gratin a nice thick body and extra flavor, but if you want this dish a little lighter, use low-fat milk instead of the half-and-half.