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.
- 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
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters. Remove and discard the root ends.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Transfer to a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the reserved orange zest and fennel fronds and serve.
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving