We love fennel in our house (or the grown-ups do, at least). We especially love when it comes into season and the price goes way down and we can pick up big and little bulbs to play around with. This recipe is a vague version of this piece of deliciousness from Stonesoup. The recipe looks a bit complex and there are a lot more than Stonesoup's traditional five ingredients. What it boils (braises) down to though is grilled chunks of fennel roasted in a bed of piquant-tomato-ey sauce and then served on gooey polenta. It changes each time I do it now that I've had this a time or two.
This time round, while the fennel was grilling, I dumped a tin or two of tomatoes into a big jug with a cup of chicken stock, a blob of tomato paste, a glug of white wine vinegar, a scattering of fennel seeds, a handful of olives and a few big bashed up bits of garlic. I let that sit for a while then fished out the biggest bits of garlic (as they tend to catch and burn). This all goes in a baking tin or oven-friendly dish with the grilled fennel and is baked/roasted/braised (whatever it actually is) for about 30-40 minutes - but keep an eye on it and turn the fennel if it looks like it's getting a bit tough or dark. After a while the sauce thickens and the olives go a little shrivelly and delicious.
I normally serve this on a small lake of cheesy, soft polenta but because I was cooking early so Dear Boy could share, the polenta would have been a solid stodge by the time we sat down. Instead I set it in the fridge and then baked it into crispy triangles once Lovely Husband and I were ready to eat. We had a little stash of Danish feta in the fridge, so that was sprinkled over the final dish with a bit of the delicate fennel fern (is that was that is?).
This is perfect for me by itself but Lovely Husband would like it better with a big chunk of grilled steak or chicken sliced over the top. It'd work though with some kind of bean or pulse in the sauce to make it a smidge more hearty.
Do you have a favourite Autumn food?