Because all that slow cooking tends to draw the sweeter flavours of the spectrum from meats and vegetables, we tend to use wine, vinegar or even verjuice for balance. Especially when braising vegetables such as fennel, a little vinegar adds a pleasant tang, complementing its sweet anise flavours.
4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
5 finely sliced shallots
4 chopped garlic cloves
salt and ground pepper
2-3 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 bulbs of fennel
1 cup of dry white wine
6 tbsp of white-wine vinegar
Heat 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a high-sided pan. Lightly fry 5 finely sliced shallots, a peeled and sliced carrot and 4 chopped garlic cloves for 5 minutes till they soften. Add a couple of good pinches of salt, a few turns of fresh ground pepper, 2-3 bay leaves, 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme and 4 bulbs of fennel (with outer leaves removed and sliced in half). Fry for 2 minutes more, stirring so the fennel is well coated with the vegetables. Add a cup of dry white wine and 6 tbsp of white-wine vinegar and season a little more.
Bring to the boil then place in a pre-heated 190C oven for 20-30 minutes till the fennel is tender and can be pierced easily with a sharp knife.
This recipes is featured in the book, Vegetarian which is available now in all good bookstores RRP $34.95. To order direct call 1300 656 059 or visit www.smh.com.au/store