RCP: Fennel gratin!

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RCP: Fennel gratin!

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:59 pm

Fennel gratin!

This may be the best thing I've ever done with fresh fennel bulb, or second-best anyway. My standard-in-the-rotation roast fennel risotto is mighty hard to beat.

This one wins for simplicity, though, and ridiculously great flavor.

1. Cut a fennel bulb into three or four thick vertical slices and trim out and discard the core.
2. Blanch the pieces gently in simmering salted water just until they're crisp-tender.
3. Drain, cool and dry. Then brown them briefly in butter scented with a little onion and garlic.
4. Arrange the browned fennel in one layer in a lightly buttered baking dish. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Then pour over about 3/4 to 1 cup rich dairy. I used a mix of crème fraîche from Lotsa Pasta and homemade cashew cream (leftovers for the win!) but you could use sour cream, heavy cream, whole milk or a combination, etc.), plus grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, I also put in a little dried fennel pollen because I have it and like to kick up the mild fennel flavor, but this is absolutely an offbeat option.
5. Bake at 400ºF with more grated cheese on top for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and browned. Serve with a good dry white wine.
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Re: RCP: Fennel gratin!

Postby Christina Georgina » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:19 pm

Robin, a question and a comment. But first, I would say Bravo as fennel is an under utilized vegetable and this is a very good way to cook it.
Why cut out the core? This is perfectly edible and for some reason, my favorite part!
For me, raw fennel has more intense flavors so when I cook with it I always try to amp the flavors. I blanch in vegetable or chicken stock and then add a bit of ground fennel seed. Have not cooked with the pollen so I don't know how it might embellish and intensify the flavors I love. If braise-frying the fennel first, deglazing the pan with a bit of fennel liquor will do the trick as well.
As fennel can be quite stringy, a long, low, slow braise will work to tenderize the fiber
Mamma Mia !
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Re: RCP: Fennel gratin!

Postby Robin Garr » Fri Sep 20, 2013 10:22 pm

Christina Georgina wrote:Why cut out the core? This is perfectly edible and for some reason, my favorite part!

Good question, Christina! I don't always do it, but in a dish like this where I want a great texture, I find that the core stays hard and leaves chewy bits in with the otherwise silken fennel meat. It's a very minor point, though, and I certainly wouldn't object to leaving it in.
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Re: RCP: Fennel gratin!

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:47 am

Made this tonight. Absolutely delicious. I used fennel seeds instead of fennel pollen but I agree that it don't hurt to give the anise flavor a little nudge. (Under which aegis I also sizzled a couple slices of bacon and mixed them in....)

Thank you, Robin!
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