from one generation to the next
It’s no secret I’m a fan of fennel. The evidence is the number of recipes in my archive that feature fennel seed and/or fresh fennel bulb. Fresh fennel is grown somewhere in Australia all year round so it’s never really out of season. The price drops as the weather cools in reaction to the increased abundance of supply.
This is a slightly modified recipe from Marcella Hazan’s “The Classic Italian Cookbook.” I’ve replaced the celery she used for thickly sliced fresh fennel bulb and adjusted the seasonings a little. The recipe was super simple to prepare and the finished dish highlighted the quality of the freshly dug potatoes I used. The olive oil had taken on the subtle aniseed flavour of the fennel creating a delicious dressing for the simple potatoes.
I give the Italians credit for knowing how to simply but masterfully cook vegetables with skill and care. Served beside pan fried fish fillets, this Olive Oil Braised Potatoes and Fennel was the perfect accompaniment.
Olive Oil Braised Potatoes and Fennel
550g fresh potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
2 bulbs of fresh fennel
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Scrub the potatoes clean but do no peel them. Cut into large chunks.
Cut the tops from the fennel and save a few green fronds for garnish.
Discard any bruised parts of the fennel then cut the bulb into 2cm thick wedges.
Put the potatoes, fennel, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a wide pan and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes.
Bring the pan to the boil, cover tightly, reduce the heat to a high simmer then cook until the potatoes are done when tested with a skewer.
Remove the potatoes from the pan and set aside.
Turn up the heat under the pan and reduce the braising liquid until all that remains is olive oil.
Return the potatoes to the pan, toss in the oil, cover and reheat.
Check the seasoning, transfer to a serving bowl and scatter with greens from the fennel frond.
Serves 4 as a side dish.