Thursday, April 09, 2009

Braised Fennel

This is an all time favourite originally picked up from a River Café cookbook. Like so many of the recipes I have prepared repeatedly my version is not necessarily recognisable as the RC recipe I started with. I also think that at some point I picked up a recipe from the guy who owns the French Laundry in California that somehow got worked into my own version.

Ingredients (for 4):

  1. 4 medium size fennels cut into quarters. Clean up the end but keep the tough core as it will keep the fennel from falling apart during the cooking. Reserve the fronds and tops and chop finely;
  2. 50 gr butter;
  3. 1 glass or about 125 ml white wine;
  4. 150 ml good quality chicken stock;
  5. 2 tbsp EVOO;
  6. 1 tbsp sweet vinegar such as cider or white balsamic;
  7. 1 lemon;
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.


    • Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan under medium heat. Add fennel and caramelize the flat sides turn over and caramelize the rounded bit a little;
    • Return the fennel onto the flat side and poor over the white wine. Let simmer until most of the wine has evaporated;
    • Add the chicken stock and let simmer covered over low heat until the fennel is soft through or about 30 min (the chicken stock should come up to half the sides of the fennel);
    • Remove fennel from the pan and set aside. Stir the vinegar into the remaining sauce and slowly add the EVOO while stirring constantly. You are hoping to emulsify the sauce;
    • You can either pour the desired amount of sauce over the fennel or toss the fennel in the sauce. I prefer the former;
    • Garnish with the chopped fronds and tops and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over just before serving.


  1. Before adding the wine, flambé 1 shot of brandy or pastis (not sure this does much for the dish but it is good theatre);
  2. 1 large Onion chopped roughly added at the same time as the fennel;
  3. Rosemary & Garlic added just before the wine (this was in the original River Café recipe);
  4. Replace half the chicken stock with orange juice and use the rind of one orange mixed in with the fronds (in this case skip the lemon juice at the end).