Time for baked fennel recipes. Initially this baked fennel was meant to be a fennel risotto recipe, but due to laziness of the cook, plan B was employed.
For four people you will need:
4 fennel bulbs
1 tbsp lemon juice
30-40gr butter, plus extra fir greasing
2 tbsp flour
½ litre warm milk
½ glass white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp grated nutmeg.
The original fennel recipe also included 100ml double cream and 50gr pine kernels, and 125gr grated fontina cheese (or anything melting), but I didn’t have them and you wouldn’t expect a lazy cook to go to the supermarket just for that, right?
Preheat the oven at 170ºC. So here is how it goes. Finely slice the fennels (discard the hair and the greener parts) and blanch them in salted boiling water with the lemon juice for 3-5 minutes, then drain them.
Now melt the butter in a pan, and add the flour.
(this is what the book says for this baked fennel recipe, but I have to say it was a clear invitation to flour to form as many lumps possible, and it was hard to dissolve them later.
But it’s also true that in the end all goes in the oven, and the taste won’t change)
Stir continuously and add the warm milk (and cream if you have it), and leave it to thicken. Then add the wine, salt and pepper and nutmeg and let it season for a 2 minutes.
Line an ovenproof casserole with oven paper and pour half of the fennels, then half of the béchamel sauce (‘cos that’s what you’ve just done there, in case you didn’t notice) and then the rest of fennels and sauce. Give a stir and sprinkle with the cheese and bake for 25 minutes., or until the cheese has melted and has slightly browned.
If you have the pine kernels, dry-roast them in a pan and sprinkle them on top of the fennels before serving.