Fennel is one of those funny vegetables that people tend to love or hate. I personally love it as I think the licorice flavor and crisp texture is very refreshing when Fennel Bulbs are shaved into a salad. It's particularly good with an Orange Vinaigrette (previous post). I rarely cook it, but when I do, it changes into a completely different vegetable altogether. It becomes soft and creamy and the licorice flavor gets much more delicate and reminds me of the flavor of Tarragon. It is particularly good with roast meats. And, the good news is that Braised Fennel is really simple to make. You just brown the cut up Fennel Bulb into quarters and sauté them in butter with a little oil (to keep it from burning) until they are lightly browned and then steam them with some Chicken Broth. Sprinkled with some fresh ground Pepper and a squeeze of Lemon, if desired, it is a delicious side dish!
Simple Braised Fennel
2 large Fennel Bulbs - ends, stems and fronds cut off and cut into quarters
2 Tablespoons Salted Butter
1 Tablespoon light flavored Vegetable OIl
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
Pinch of fresh Ground Pepper
Optional: 1 quarter of a large Lemon
In a large frying pan with a lid, melt the Butter and Oil over medium-high heat. Add in the Fennel, one cut side down and cook until lightly browned. Turn the Fennel to cook the other cut side until browned. Then pour in the Chicken Broth and cover, reducing the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Test with a fork to see if tender - especially large fennel may need an additional 5 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with the Pepper and squeeze Lemon Juice over the top if desired.
Five Element Analysis
Fennel is a Metal Vegetable and cooking it with Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element. The Butter and the Lemon, if you use it, adds even more. The only Fire Element ingredient is the tiny bit of Black Pepper. So, this is a great dish to serve when you need some more Metal and Wood in the meal.