Creamy Smoked Chicken with Roasted Cashews and Fennel

This elegant dish features succulent smoked chicken, toasted cashews for a delightful textural contrast, and caramelized fennel for a touch of earthy sweetness. All nestled in a luxurious cream sauce infused with Bongards®SuperMelt™ White American Loaf and aromatic thyme. It’s a symphony of flavors and textures, sure to become a new favorite.


  • 2 Lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 C. dried orzo
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, rinsed, small dice, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 4 C. chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp. dried ground fennel
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 oz. raw cashews
  • 4 oz. Bongards® SuperMelt™ White American Loaf, cubed
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper


  1. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees F.
  2. Season chicken thighs liberally with kosher salt and black pepper, place in medium baking dish.
  3. Smoke for 3-4 hours in smoker.
  4. Remove from smoker, saving rendered chicken fat.
  5. Heat 2 Tbsp. rendered chicken fat in large pot over medium heat.
  6. Add cashews, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted and fragrant.
  7. Remove cashews from pan, roughly chop.
  8. Add orzo to pot, toast, stirring to ensure even browning.
  9. Remove orzo once pale brown and fragrant, transfer to plate or bowl.
  10. Add 2 Tbsp. rendered chicken fat to same pot over medium heat.
  11. Add diced fennel and pinch of kosher salt.
  12. Sauté until fennel is translucent and soft, about 8-10 minutes.
  13. Add chicken stock, chicken thighs, thyme, and dried fennel to pot.
  14. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid.
  15. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  16. Remove cooked chicken thighs, place on cutting board.
  17. Add American cheese to pot, stir until melted and fully incorporated.
  18. Add broth to blender, blend until smooth, return to pot.
  19. Simmer over medium-high heat.
  20. Add toasted orzo to pot, stir to fully incorporate.
  21. Simmer for 10-12 minutes or until orzo is tender.
  22. Remove skin from chicken thighs, use fork to remove meat from bones, shred into bite-sized pieces.
  23. Turn off heat, add chicken pieces to pot.
  24. Taste, add salt and pepper as needed.
  25. When serving, top with fennel fronds, toasted cashews, and cracked black pepper.