Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Making the Most of Fennel at Home

 Trimmed fennel, the bulb about the size of a baseball.

I really appreciate fennel.  I have never had it in a form or flavoring that I didn’t fully enjoy.  Unfortunately it is relatively expensive especially if trimmed and prepped in a way I have done in restaurants in the past.  I got one small head of fennel from the West Side Market earlier this week and it cost a solid $3.  I didn’t core it, and used a lot more of the stalk portion than I’ve ever used in the past.  There were no adverse results as I expected there to be some tough or stringy pieces.  This was not even close to one of the larger heads of fennel I’ve seen so this might not be the case for all sizes of fennel.  Also, I was able to successfully stretch out the flavor of the fennel with an equal part of green cabbage cooked in the same way as the fennel.  Lastly I seasoned the whole mess with fennel salt from Spicehound. 

 Caramelized Fennel at Home
One head of fennel
Equal amount green cabbage
One garlic clove per head of fennel
Half one orange per head of fennel
Fennel salt and pepper

I remove the top two inches of the fennel stalks, assuming your whole piece of fennel included bulb and fonds, if not just remove a thin slice.  Chop the stalks into rounds the same thickness that you slice the bulb.  Slice the cabbage to a similar thickness but keep separate.  Rough chop garlic and also hold separate.  Start by deeply caramelizing the fennel on med-high heat in a 50/50 mixture of oil and butter.  After removing the fennel from the pan sear the cabbage on high heat in a similar mixture of fats.  Toss garlic with seared cabbage and cook over reduced heat for one minute then squeeze orange over pan of which the fennel and seasoning have been added.  On low heat cook for another 5 minutes.  Pairs well with sweet potatoes, red meat, or hearty fish.

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