Saturday, June 5, 2010

Easiest and Most Delicious Fennel

Ad Hoc at Home is one of my current favorite cookbooks. It is perfect for CSA life: family style cooking if you were related to Thomas Keller and he was thinking about how to make everything your grandmother made taste better. The techniques, ingredients and ideas are all wonderful and give a glimpse into the unending simplicity and complexity involved in elevating the best fresh ingredients. The caramelized fennel recipe is awesome. I know, I know, I run the risk of seeming to be blown away by everyone's ideas about what to do with fennel except for my own.

After eating fennel all winter long and thinking I had approached every conceivable use, we were treated to a heart breakingly beautiful and delicious fennel cheesecake at Christiana's. Having had some time to recover from what can only be described as a fennel revelation, I found Tim Kilcoyne's Fennel Confit with Fennel Frond Banga Cauda at the recent Outstanding in the Field event to be yet another. Now, with Thomas Keller's deceptively simple preparation, I've come to believe that there are no end of truly magic options for the licorice tasting bulbs that work quite well roasted with chicken, grilled, worked into boullabaisse, or shaved and served raw. What is completely amazing here, even in contrast to Christiana and Tim's brilliance, is that Ad Hoc uses only three ingredients! There is no cream cheese to hide behind. For that matter, there is not even a grilled meyer lemon. This is a GREAT quick and easy side to complement anything and use up your weekly fennel.

2 medium fennel bulbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola Oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cut off the fennel stalks and trim the core and the tough outer layer from each bulb. Cut the fennel lengthwise in half and then cut into quarter inch wide wedges. Add the fennel to the boiling water and cook until crisp tender, about 30 minutes. (The fennel will be cooked again, so be careful not to overcook it). Drain the fennel and pat dry on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat some canola oil over medium high heat in a frying pan that will hold the fennel wedges in a single layer. Add the fennel, cut side down, and cook to caramelize the wedges, 2 to 3 minutes per each cut side. Drain on paper towels and serve.

- Jet Doye


Steph said...

prepped my fennel this way yesterday, and it was delicious! yay!

Jet said...

Steph, I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed it! I think fennel is generally wonderful and this is such an easy option. I love the complex textures and tastes from just a few ingredients.


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There is plenty of gozo at Rio Gozo Farm. That is JOY in Spanish and joy is one of the most dependable products we have. Gozo is commonly found in gardens and farms. Once you get a little gozo up and going it is very tolerant of most pests, withstands dry periods, and grows with a modicum of fertilizer. After gozo becomes a staple of one's diet, it goes with about anything. Actually folks crave it so much it is a wonder everyone does not have a patch of it growing close at hand. Grab up some gozo and get with the flow.