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Here’s something I like to have around the house. I use it as a snack on toasts, or I top entrees with it. I add it to soups and put it in sandwiches. I call it Fennel Jam or Fennel Marmalade, depending on how big the pieces are when it’s done. For this dish, you want to cook it in a pan that will hold the vegetables close, so they will stew. I prefer a medium sized “chefs pan”- the one with the bowl shape- as this allows for a smaller cooking area as the jam cooks down.
INGREDIENTS:1 large fennel bulb halved, cored, and sliced or chopped into 1/8th to ¼ inch pieces 1 small brown onion halved through the stem and sliced 1/8th inch 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced 1/2 tablespoon fennel fronds, minced 2 teaspoon toasted fennel seed powder (toast the seeds in a dry skillet until they give off a pleasant licorice aroma and grind using a coffee mill or mortar and pestle. This powder is useful for many dishes such as fish, pork, scallops, and a pinch in pasta sauce) Salt and pepper to taste Stock, white wine, or water to come just below the top of the vegetables (Any combination will do) 1 oz. of pastis (Pernod, Ricard, anisette) optional Olive oil as needed
Heat a 1 quart chef’s pan or saucepan over medium-high heat.When the pan is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is hot, add the fennel and toss to coat with the oil. Sauté the fennel for 3-5 minutes until it starts to color and wilt. Add the onions and toss to coat with oil. Turn down the heat under the pan to medium, and cook the mixture until it wilts down and begins to color. Season with a good pinch of salt, and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the fennel powder, and toss to mix in.
Continue cooking until the vegetables are all wilted and are beginning to appear to melt. At this point, make a well in the center of the vegetables, and add a drizzle of oil-just enough to wet the center of the pan. Add in the minced garlic and cook to wilt and become fragrant. When the garlic is softened, toss the vegetables to mix in the garlic.
At this point the vegetables should be turning golden. Add the liquid of your choice to come to just below the top of the vegetables. Place a top on the pan, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the vegetables until they are quite soft and the liquid is turning syrupy. If you are running low on liquid before the vegetable is caramelized or turned syrupy, simply add more liquid of your choice.
When the liquid has reduced and the vegetables have reached a jam-like consistency, add the pastis and sprinkle the minced fennel over the dish, tossing to mix in. Cook a minute or two more, or until the contents of the pan are thickened, and then you are done. Serve warm or cool and transfer to a jar.
YIELD: Around 8 to 12 ounces.
SOURCE: Chef Andrew Cohen
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