The bulb, the seeds, the leaves: fennel is such a generous plant! The bulb (the swollen base of the stem) can be cooked, grilled, stewed, used in salads or steamed. The leaves are great for decoration or in a salad and the crushed seeds can be used on their own or in a combination like five-spice powder. Overall fennel has an anise-flavoured, warm, sweet taste.
We slow cook the bulb, capturing all the lovely flavours and creating a soft, fibrous texture. You could add star anise or some orange peel to the stew. We prefer adding a splash of pastis, because it adds depth to the fennel. We recommend pastis as produced by Henri Bardouin, because of its excellent, delicate taste.
We prepare the fennel using a cartouche. This way you get the tastiest moist fennel ever.
What You Need
What You Do
Use baking paper to make a cartouche. Remove the outer leave(s) of the fennel if so required. Slice the fennel in 4, from top to bottom. Slice every quarter in 3 to 6 segments, from top to bottom. The idea is that every segment looks a bit like a fan. Trim of parts that don’t look nice, but don’t remove the bottom. If you do remove it, the fan will fall apart.
Warm a heavy pan, add a very generous amount of butter, a splash of pastis and the sliced fennel. Cover tightly with the cartouche and leave on low heat for an hour or so, perhaps longer. Feel free to stir gently every 15 minutes. The fennel should be soft, sweet, anise-flavoured and rich. When serving, poor the remaining liquid over the fennel. We served our fennel with Confit de Canard and enjoyed it with a glass of Bardolino.
The name Horn of Plenty refers to the shape (very much like a funnel without a stem) of the mushroom and to the mythical goat Amaltheia, whose horn would be filled with everything you whished for. It’s also called Black Chantarelle, which is very appropriate because it’s a chantarelle and truly black when cooked. The more morbid name is Trompette de la Mort, as if the buried use the mushrooms to play the Marche Funèbre.
More importantly to us: they are very edible with a pleasant fibrous and chewy texture. The only downside is that they quickly become soggy and smelly, so make sure you buy (or harvest) dry ones and use them the same day or the next.
For some reason Horn of Plenty simply loves cumin. We also added coriander and fennel seed to give some additional lightness and freshness to the combination. And as always, only use the very best organic pork.
A medium bodied, not too complex, red wine will be perfect. Think Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Cabernet Franc, Carménère.
What You Need
150 grams Horn of Plenty
One Red Onion
Cumin, Coriander and Fennel (seeds)
What You Do
Clean the mushrooms thoroughly. This can be time consuming. Slice the pork fillet to create 6 medallions. Heat a heavy iron skillet and fry the medallions in olive oil until just underdone. Wrap in aluminium foil and leave to rest. Slice the red onion, add some olive oil to the pan and fry the onion. Grind cumin, coriander and fennel seeds and fry the spices. Lower the heat, perhaps add some more olive oil and fry the mushrooms for 5-10 minutes. Taste, adjust and add some black pepper. Add the juices from the pork to the pan, deglaze and serve.
Fennel and radishes go together very well. Radishes come with a spicy, piquant flavour; fennel comes with the flavour of anise. Both have a touch of sweetness and a lovely crunchy texture. Combine with a simple dressing of oil and vinegar and you’ll have a tasty salad. But, yes, agreed, something is missing. What to add? Search the Internet and you’ll find additions such as lemon (zest and juice), cucumber, apple, Parmesan cheese et cetera. All very nice, but we think the not-very-obvious third ingredient is tarragon. It supports the anise flavour and unites the fennel and the radishes, especially after two of more hours in the refrigerator.
When on the Internet you will also see that most chefs put the vegetables in ice-cold water to make them extra crispy and that using a mandoline slicer is required. We much prefer coarsely dicing the ingredients in order to create one, flavourful, refreshing salad. By dicing the ingredients and letting the salad rest, the flavours will be much better distributed. Take your time to chew, allow the salad to linger in your mouth and enjoy the development of the flavour.
Fennel and tarragon point in the direction of fish, which is indeed a good idea, provided the fish is one with lots of flavours. Think monkfish, skate, mackerel, red gurnard et cetera. You could also think of a home-made burger with first class beef, mustard, spring onion, a splash of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, black pepper, capers and dill.
What You Need
One small Fennel
Three sprigs of Tarragon
White Wine or Cider Vinegar
What You Do
Cut the fennel and radishes into small cubes. Cut a large amount of tarragon leaves; similar size. Make a dressing with olive oil and vinegar. Don’t make the dressing very oily and don’t make too much dressing, it should only coat the ingredients. Combine in a bowl, mix well and store in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Just before serving taste the salad. You may want to add some vinegar.