Fennel, France and Flights
There is nothing like the beautiful City of Light to put you in the Christmas spirit! I had a quick business trip this week to Paris and between the lights of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas lights of the Champs-Élysées, I found myself belting out Christmas tunes all the way home. The city is such a magnificent canvas on which to paint Christmas. Somehow in the fog of my education, I neglected to learn or remember that Paris was named the City of Light because it was a beacon for ideas and education during the Age of Enlightenment. Then in 1828, Paris began lighting the Champs-Elysées with gas lights; the first city in Europe to do so. Hence its nickname was born. (Merci for educating me, Gilbert!) I love working out of our Paris office – the cafeteria offers dishes like foie gras or a glass of wine for lunch. You have to love it! One afternoon I had a delicious braised endive with my meal – it was buttery and creamy and simply melted in your mouth. If I spoke better French, I would have gone back and ordered the entire pan. It was on my mind as I stopped at our little market on the way home from my flight last eve. With no endive in sight, I decided that an oven braised fennel would be a worthy substitute. Oven braising is simple and a great way to concentrate the flavors of the vegetables with a bit of stock. This dish is super easy to throw together and allows you to do other things while the veggies are doing their thing in the toasty oven. Enjoy!
Oven-braised Fennel with Parmesan
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced down the middle and cut into thick wedges (about ½ inch); reserve about 2 or 3 teaspoons of fennel fronds to sprinkle on top
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth or stock
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil a 13X9 inch glass baking dish. Arrange the fennel slices in the dish. Sprinkle with the garlic. Pour the broth over the top. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes, until the fennel is tender.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover the fennel and sprinkle with the Parmigiano. Place on the top shelf of the oven. Cook until the liquid has reduced and the fennel is browned, basting a few times with the broth as it cooks, about 15 minutes.
- Chop the fennel fronds and sprinkle over the roasted fennel.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Buon appetito!