Caramelized and braised fennel

Carmelized fennelFennel is probably my favorite vegetable. Every time I eat it, I am reminded of Italy. Fennel seeds and more recently pollen show up in all kinds of Italian receipes. And fennel is found up in numerous liqueurs including Strega.

Cooking up a batch of fennel on a weeknight could not be easier. Here’s one approach that develops deep rich flavors and then finishes with a gentle braise.

This recipe serves 2 people as a side dish.

Ingredients and Directions:

  • 1 fennel bulb cut into 8 or 12 wedges depending on the size. Cut through the root so the wedges hold together.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 oil-packed achovies, minced into small pieces
  • 1 glove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken or vegatable stock
  • ¼ cup oil-cured olives, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Salt and pepper

Special equipment:

  • A heavy duty frying pan such as a cast iron frying pan
  1. Heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in the frying plan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, lay the fennel wedges in the pan. They should sizzle.
  2. When the the slices are deeply browned on one side, flip them over with tongs and brown the other side. When done, remove to a plate and lightly salt the wedges.
  3. Lower the heat to medium.
  4. Add another tablespoon of extra-virgin oil to the pan. Add the anchovies and garlic and saute until the garlic is lightly browned and the anchovies have dissolved.
  5. Add the stock and allow it to come to a gentle boil, stir up the bits of anchovy and garlic. Taste the broth at this point and adjust the salt and pepper. Remember the olives will add salt and reducing the stock will concentrate the salt as well.
  6. Add the fennel slices back to the pan. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid. Add the sliced olives and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a syrup.
  8. Serve hot.

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