Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Braised fennel bulbs

It is funny how some vegetables can be drastically different depending how they are prepared. Raw, fennel bulbs bring a crisp, fresh touch to salads. Their anise flavor is bold and invigorating. They should be used in moderation as their strong aroma can easily overpower a dish. Cooked, they become sweet and melt in the mouth. They are great on their own, or aside braised/grilled/roasted meat or baked white fish (halibut for instance).

Count one small fennel bulb per person. One small yellow onion and 1 tbsp butter for 2 bulbs.
  1. If sold with branches, cut off the branches. Cut each bulb in half. Core. Rinse. Slice crosswise into 1/2 to 1/3 inch (1 cm) strips.
  2. Heat up the butter with a splash of sunflower (or other high heat, mild flavored) oil in a frying pan, until bubbly. Oil will prevent the butter from burning.
  3. Add the sliced onion, reduce to medium-high heat and toss to coat with butter. Sauté for a few minutes until translucent.
  4. Add the sliced fennel bulbs, toss.
  5. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, tossing from time to time. Reduce heat if necessary. Add liquid (water or white wine) if dry. Cook 5 more minutes without a lid.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
Here I braised the fennel bulbs with a pork tenderloin and basmati rice. The meat was browned on all sides in butter (in a large cast iron pot), seasoned with salt and pepper then coated with a tablespoon of Dijon mustard. The fennel (prepared up to step 4) was arranged around the meat. I poured 1 cup (20 cL) dry white wine (e.g. Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio) on the fennel, covered and simmered for about 20 minutes on medium-low heat (make sure not to overcook the meat – which I did here, sadly).


Moni said...

This looks amazing! Thanks for the inspiration. I love your blog. :)

Estelle said...

Thanks :-)