Braised Fennel with Orange
This dish has been part of my repertoire for years—I introduced it at Trio, where I was the chef in the early 1990s. When I was growing up, we usually ate fennel shaved thin and served with lemon and pepper. Now I like it braised, too, and find that raw or cooked, with its mild licorice flavor, fennel has a natural affinity lor oranges. For this little plate, I pair it with plenty of orange juice and finish the dish with grated orange zest. I always use a microplane grater to remove the zest from citrus fruit and highly recommend you invest in one of these marvelous kitchen tools.
About the wine
Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Tuscany is a mouthful to say, and it can also be a mouth-filling white wine. Often blended with Chardonnay and/or Vermentino (like the famous “Terre di Tufi”), those wines made from the Vernaccia grape on its own offer lifting acidity, floral bouquet, and a nice foil for the licorice-y fennel and Pernod.
Total Timeunder 1 hour
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Coursehot appetizer, side dish, tapas/small plates, vegetable
Dietary Considerationpeanut free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturebuttery, fruity, rich
Type of Dishvegetable
- 4 fennel bulbs, plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped fronds
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup diced onion
- 3 oranges
- 1 tablespoon Pernod
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters. Remove and discard the root ends.
In an ovenproof braising pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the fennel and onion and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the onion is softened.
Grate the zest from 1 orange and reserve. Cut all 3 of the oranges in half and squeeze the juice into the pan. Add the Pernod, ignite it to burn off the alcohol, then bring the liquid to a brisk simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half, then add the chicken stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. When incorporated, cover the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the fennel is tender.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the reserved orange zest and fennel fronds and serve.
2007 Rick Tramonto