Fennel often gets a bit of a bad rap as having an overpowering licorice-like flavour, or just simply as being a difficult ingredient to use in everyday cooking. I can’t get enough of it, to tell you the truth! It’s actually very versatile to use, changes flavour and texture depending on whether you eat it raw, roast it or what dish you use it in, and it also happens to be pretty inexpensive. I love it thinly sliced in salads for a little crunch (if you saw my recipe on the cover of Candian Living‘s May issue, you’ll know what I mean!) but I also love it braised.
Slowly braising the fennel transforms it into a new vegetable, bringing out its natural sweetness with only a hint of anise, making it a perfect side dish for so many mains like seared scallops, grilled chicken or roasted salmon. I hope you give it a try and report back!
Sweet Braised Fennel
Serves 2 to 4
1 fennel bulb
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives
Discard fennel fronds; cut fennel in half lengthwise. Cut each half again lengthwise, cut once more, lengthwise to form eighths. In large skillet, cook half of the olive oil over medium heat; cook shallots, garlic and pinch each salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape mixture into bowl.
Heat remaining oil over medium high heat; cook fennel, in one even layer, turning once, until fennel is light golden, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sugar over top; pour stock and thyme over fennel; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, stir in shallot mixture, simmer, covered, until fennel is tender, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with pinch each salt and pepper; remove fennel to plate; keep warm. Increase heat to medium high, thicken stock until reduced by half. Pour over fennel, discarding thyme; top with chives. Enjoy!