Braised fennel and fronds

You either like fresh fennel or you don't.....or you braise it in cream and Parmesan cheese and , I promise, anyone will LOVE it! The otherwise licoricey flavor becomes mellow and sweet, the texture turns tender, and the butter,cream and cheese add a lush flavor that is irresistably rich. Typically, I use large bulbs of fennel and cut them into 3 inch strips, but when I found baby fennel at the market, I couldn't resist braising them whole.
You can cook this recipe on the stovetop in a saute pan or pop it in the oven while roasting a chicken. It couldn't be more simple and delicious.

Braised fennel
2 Tbsp. sweet cream butter
2 large bulbs of fennel cut into 3 inch long/1/4 inch thick strips or 4 baby fennel bulbs with stems, fronds removed.
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp. vidalia onion pesto*
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese {the real stuff}
1 oz. blue cheese

In a heavy bottomed saute pan, heat the butter over medium low heat. Add the fennel, salt and pepper, and saute on each side, just until lightly brown and carmelized. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add the cream and bring to a low boil. Sprinkle on the cheese and simmer, covered, over low heat or bake in a 350 degree oven until the fennel is tender when pierced with a knife and the cheese and cream mixture is a golden bubbly brown.
Top with chopped fennel leaves from the stems or chopped italian parsely leaves and a dusting of more parmesan cheese.
* optional: use Bella Cucina Vidalia onion pesto or saute 2 Tbsp. chopped onion.

Buon appetito!

Copyright 2007 Alisa Barry

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