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Braised Fennel with Orange

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Serves 8-10

Orange juice and zest and citrusy coriander seeds underscore the sweetness of tender braised fennel. The beauty of this dish is that it’s delicious hot, warm, or at room temperature.

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 4 medium fennel bulbs (about 4 lb. total), stalks trimmed and bulbs cut into quarters (cores left intact), fronds reserved for garnish 
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth 
  • 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth 
  • 1 medium navel orange 
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed 
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed 
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. 

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the fennel, cut side down. Cook undisturbed until browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other cut sides.

Arrange the fennel browned sides up in a large (10x14-inch) gratin or shallow baking dish. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining fennel. Lower the heat to medium if any smoking occurs. It’s OK if the wedges are snug in the baking dish; they’ll shrink as they braise. 

Add the garlic to the skillet and and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dissolve any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer to meld the flavors, about 2 minutes. Pour over the fennel. 

With a vegetable peeler, remove three 3-inch strips of zest from the orange and then juice the orange. Nestle the pieces of zest in the fennel and pour the juice over. Sprinkle with the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, 1 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. 

Cover the dish tightly with foil and braise in the oven until the fennel has collapsed and a paring knife penetrates the cores with no resistance, about 1-1/4 hours.

Spoon some braising liquid over the fennel, garnish with the reserved fronds, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Make Ahead Tips

The fennel may be made 2 days ahead of serving.

Uncover and cool to room temperature before refrigerating it (covered).

Let the fennel come to room temperature before serving. Or reheat it, covered, in a 325°F oven.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 90; Fat (g): fat g 4.5; Fat Calories (kcal): 40; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 0.5; Protein (g): protein g 2; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 1; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 180; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 0; Fiber (g): fiber g 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Love the delicate orange flavoring. Easy and pairs well with beef, mushrooms, red wine, and tangy radicchio cauliflower salad also in this issue.

This was a nice pairing to the holiday dinner. Delicate flavor, easy to prepare. I used a lemon zester for the orange, which added nice color to the final dish.

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