I was planning on making white bean, fennel, and rosemary soup this weekend, but I overcooked my white beans and so I ended up making a white bean and rosemary puree with the beans. But what to do with the fennel? I remember making (and loving) a braised fennel recipe from Jack Bishop’s Italian Vegetarian cookbook many years ago, but for some reason I never made it again. I considered making the same recipe tonight, but I didn’t have any white wine open. Instead, I roughly followed this epicurious recipe, except rather than braising my fennel in chicken broth I used vegetable broth.
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, about 8-10 oz each
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup reduced-sodium broth + 1/4 cup water
- Cut off and discard stalks from fennel bulbs, reserving fronds. Chop 1 tablespoon fronds and discard remainder. Cut bulbs lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, leaving core intact. (In other words, don’t remove the core.)
- Heat oil or butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until very hot, then brown fennel slices well, turning over once, 3 to 4 minutes total.
- Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle fennel with salt and pepper, then add broth and water. Cook, covered, until fennel is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved fennel fronds.
- Makes four vegetable side servings.
My fennel bulbs were about 8-9 ounces each, but I couldn’t fit the last few slices in the pan in a single layer. I ended up cooking just 400g of fennel (about 14 oz). Next time I’d cut the fennel just a bit thicker so that I could fit all of the fennel in the pan.
Instead of the olive oil I used just over 1.5 Tbs. butter (25g) and then at the end I uncovered the skillet and boiled the liquid to try to reduce it a bit, then added 1 Tbs. light whipping cream to thicken it up.
Instead of the chicken broth plus water I used 3/4 cup homemade no-salt vegetable broth + 1 Rapunzel low-sodium bouillon cube.
The fennel came out really delicious. Great texture. Great taste. Salty and rich, but not overwhelmingly so. Derek said it tasted like an excellent dish in a French restaurant.
The only thing I would change next time is trying to cut the fennel a bit thicker (3/4 inches?) to get a full 20 ounces of fennel in the pan, and using exactly 1.5 Tbs. of butter. I might also try cutting the salt just a tad. But perhaps the extra six ounces of fennel would make reducing the salt unnecessary.