This fennel braised in orange juice may not look like a show-stopping dish, but the flavours are deliciously intense. A fabulous use of seasonal favourites.
It seems like ages since I shared a recipe with you, my lovely readers, but I made this modest-looking fennel braised in orange juice on the weekend and fell in love with it. For multiple reasons (five separate trips – three of them international, two major research projects, a kitchen reno that took over six weeks – and it’s still not painted, the lingering sickness and deaths of our two much loved dogs, and lots more besides) I realised that I’ve not invited anyone for a meal here for over six months.
Now that we’re home and things are a little more settled I’ve begun to remedy that, starting last weekend with a casual evening with some good friends. With The Bloke, they parked themselves in front of the football on the television, while I played happily in my new kitchen, turning out a Middle-Eastern themed meal. I made up two of the dishes and sourced a very wonderful cauliflower and saffron yoghurt salad recipe from Luke Mangan’s new “Sharing Plates” cookbook (more about that later).
As ever, I kept things simple, without skimping on flavour – that’s my rule and I stick to it. Fennel and oranges are both winter produce and are at their very peak at the moment, so a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. This fennel may not look like a rock-star dish, but the depth of flavour will surprise.
I slow-cooked this intensely-flavoured fennel braised in orange juice in Stanley, my slow combustion stove, who chunters along in my kitchen all through winter. This means he is always ready for a slow-cooked dish, but the wintry weather could be all the excuse you need to pop your oven on and leave it on low for a few hours.
Just remember to keep the dish partially covered and give it a stir every half hour or so – you don’t want the fennel to brown or caramelise at all. It should be soft and ready to collapse in your mouth in a mild explosion of flavour.
Fennel Braised in Orange Juice
- 2 large bulbs of fennel
- 2 oranges
- 50 mls good quality olive oil
- 1/4 cup currants
- 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 160C (32F)
- Chop the hard end off the fennel and slice in 1/2-1 cm slices, toss in a baking dish with the olive oil and season to taste.
- Add grated zest and juice of one orange, combine well.
- Cover dish with aluminium foil, but leave a gap at either end of the dish for steam to escape.
- Place in oven and cook, stirring every half hour or so. Do not let it brown or dry out.
- After 1 1/2 hours add the juice of another half orange and the currants, stir, cover and cook for another 1/2-1 hours, until the fennel is very soft, but not mushy.
- To serve, freshen the dish up with juice from the other 1/2 orange and a bit more zest. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.