Like caramelized onions, slowly cooked fennel becomes deep, rich, and sweet tasting. Paired with a lemony, gremolata-like herb garnish, it’s a great accompaniment to lamb chops coated in crushed fennel seeds.
Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add the smashed garlic, and cook until it’s soft, fragrant, and lightly browned, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes; don’t let it get too dark, which would make it taste bitter. Add the fennel, toss with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is slightly soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid, and continue to cook over very low heat, scraping occasionally. You’ll begin to see the juices caramelizing on the base of the pan—you want to scrape those up and incorporate them into the fennel. Continue cooking until the fennel is very tender and sweet, 40 to 50 minutes total. If not using right away, let cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat gently before serving.
Combine the fennel seeds and pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle, and crush the fennel seeds. Season the chops with salt and pepper, and press the pepper flakes and fennel seeds onto all sides. Let the chops sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Just before cooking, combine the parsley, lemon zest and juice, oregano, and minced garlic in a small bowl; season with a bit more salt, pepper, and lemon juice; it should taste bright and zingy.
Grill or sear the chops over medium-high heat, flipping once and adjusting the heat as necessary, until cooked to your liking, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium rare (130°F). Serve the chops topped with the herb mixture, the confit, and fennel fronds, if you like.
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