Fennel in a sherry & green peppercorn broth

Fennel in a sherry green peppercorn sauce

Sweet fennel in a spicy, smoky, buttery broth. Garnished with toasted slivered almonds and gorgonzola. Delicious, but what is it? Whatever you want it to be! We had it over basmati rice. It would be good with couscous or orzo, or any other kind of pasta you like. If you add white beans or chickpeas it could become quite a hearty stew. If you cook until the fennel is very soft and the liquid quite reduced, you’ll have a delicious compote that would make a nice vegetable side dish. I was in the mood for something light and brothy (post thanksgiving search for clarity!). So I had mine by itself, with several large handfuls of baby arugula tossed on top and stirred in to wilt very slightly. And some toasted ciabatta bread. I think there’s something so pleasurable about combining ingredients, giving some thought to the flavors of the vegetables or beans, and choosing herbs and spices that match. And then tasting a spoonful of the broth, and finding it wonderful! Such a feeling of achievement! Such anticipation of the meal about to be eaten!

Here’s JJ Barnes singing about Sweet Sherry. I used dry for this, but we don’t need to tell him that.

1 largish fennel bulb, cut up quite finely
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
2 T butter
2 cloves garlic, diced very fine.
1 t rosemary
1 t. basil
1 t. green peppercorns chopped or crushed
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 t. smoked paprika
1/3 cup sherry
salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted and crushed
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola

Warm the butter in a large frying pan. Add the garlic, green peppercorns, rosemary, basil and red pepper flakes. When the garlic and butter start to brown, add the paprika and tomato. Stir, and then add the sherry. Scrape the bottom of the pan. Cook everything down for a few minutes until the sherry has turned thick and syrupy. THen add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the fennel is quite soft. 20 minutes to half an hour. If you cook until the fennel is very soft and the liquid quite reduced, you’ll have a delicious compote that would make a nice vegetable side dish.

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