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Orange-Braised Fennel

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Fennel is something that doesn’t usually come to mind when someone says to eat vegetables.  But most people find that once they’ve tried fennel, they’ll begin looking for as many other ways as they can to prepare this “bulb” with a mildly sweet licorice flavor.  I know I certainly do, so when I came across a recipe for braised fennel recently, I had to give it a spin.

Gather Up:

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, tops trimmed and cut into eighths (keep the core in tact to hold each piece together)
  • ~1/4 cup reserved fennel fronds, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp unsalted grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (the cubes in the bowl top right)
  • juice of one orange (approx 1/2 cup)
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 star anise pod (find in the Asian or specialty/bulk spice area of most markets)

In a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Arrange the fennel pieces in a single layer with one cut side down.  Cook about 3 minutes, checking occasionally for them to start browning.  When they have started to brown, turn so the other cut side is down and continue cooking until browned on the other side (roughly 3 minutes longer).

Once both sides have browned, add in the orange juice, chicken stock, and anise pod.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer.

Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes.  When done, carefully stir in half of the orange zest and fennel fronds, then remove the fennel pieces from the pan and place into a shallow serving bowl.  Cover with foil to keep warm.  Raise the heat on the pan and reduce the liquid to a thick sauce – about 4 minutes longer.  When done, remove the anise pod and discard.

Drizzle the sauce over the top of the fennel pieces, then sprinkle with the remaining orange zest and fennel fronds for garnish.  Serve along side a complimentary-flavored dish (we had it with yesterday’s Cedar Planked Salmon) and enjoy.