Braised Fennel w/ Parmesan Crumbs

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Fennel.  It’s the often ignored or misunderstood vegetable with the subtle anise flavor.  It is readily available throughout markets in Europe but seems to be more difficult to find in the U.S.  People seem to either love it, hate it, or have never tried it. Personally, I love the licorice flavor of fennel. It is tangy and crisp when eaten raw but once it is cooked, the flavors mellow and become much more subtle.
This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, is the perfect introduction to fennel for those who have never tried it yet will be sure to please the biggest fennel fans. Braised in a wine and broth mixture, the fennel emerges with a texture like butter. When topped with crunchy parmesan infused bread crumbs you have a dish that is both smooth and creamy yet crunchy. Best of all, this dish is easy to make. You can serve it on a platter family style or dress it up by filling individual ramekins with the fennel before adding the topping. I’ve served this dish as a side with barbecue chicken but it is also good with a simple grilled steak. Enjoy!
BRAISED FENNEL w/ PARMESAN CRUMBS
3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and halved lengthwise, fronds minced and reserved
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoon Pernod
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • Cut each fennel half into 3 wedges.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add fennel; cook 7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add wine, stock, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the thyme. Bring to a ­simmer.
  • Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add the Pernod to the pan.
  • Cook, uncovered, 1 minute or until liquid is slightly thickened.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add  the breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently.
  • Remove pan from heat; stir in minced fennel fronds, parmesan cheese and black pepper
  • Arrange fennel wedges on a platter and breadcrumb mixture evenly over fennel.

Serves 6

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