Combine cornstarch and seasonings in a paper or plastic bag. Add one or two chicken thighs at a time; shake to coat lightly. Repeat with remaining chicken using up all seasoning mixture. Heat oil in a 12 inch deep skillet or sauté pan* over medium heat until hot. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes per side or until lightly browned. Transfer chicken to a plate; set aside.
Add fennel and mushrooms to skillet; sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes and wine; mix well and bring to a simmer. Return chicken and any juices from plate to skillet; cover and simmer over medium low heat 10 minutes. Uncover; simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened. (If a thicker sauce is desired, transfer chicken to serving plates and reduce sauce over medium-high heat.) Serve topped with salt and herbs.
**If ChefMD seasonings are not available, substitute 2 teaspoons each: sesame seeds, dried oregano and dried marjoram.
*If a 12-inch deep skillet is not available, use a Dutch oven or 10-inch sauté pan and cook the chicken in two batches (use 1½ teaspoons oil for each batch).
Arrowroot may replace the cornstarch and tawny port or marsala wine may replace the port wine.
Serve the chicken and sauce over polenta made with cornmeal and chicken broth.
For a spicier dish add ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes along with tomatoes.
Culinary Taste Tip
All parts of the fennel plant are edible. Use the seeds — powdered or whole — to spice up soup, add depth to tomato sauce, or sweeten baked goods. Add the stalks to stews or to crunch on like celery. The leaves can garnish yogurt dips and green salads.
Culinary Technique Tip
Store fresh fennel in the refrigerator crisper for up to four days. Use fennel soon after buying because as it ages, it gradually loses flavor.