Perfect as a side dish with a roast – it goes especially well with chicken or duck.
French White Fluted Oval Bakers, from £25.00
1kg fennel bulbs
1L quality chicken stock
3 level tablespoons plain flour
200g button mushrooms 2 thick slices of white sourdough bread, crusts removed
1 clove of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
Bunch of fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 180°c or 160°c fan.
Bring the chicken stock to a gentle boil in a pan large enough to take the fennel as well.
Trim the fennel bulbs, removing the stems and tough outer leaves and cut into quarters lengthways and core.
Drop the fennel into the stock, bring back to the boil and poach for ten minutes.
Remove the fennel with a slotted spoon, leaving the stock to boil and reduce by half.
Bake the slices of bread in the oven for ten minutes each side or until totally dry and crisp, leave aside to cool.
In another pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour – bubble for 5 minutes and then slowly add half the stock, stirring to avoid lumps.
Cook for a few minutes until you have a silky, thick sauce.
Cut the mushrooms into quarters and add to the sauce, continue cooking for a further five minutes or until the mushrooms are tender.
Stir through the tarragon and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Crush the bread into breadcrumbs in a pestle and mortar.
Fry the garlic in the oil until brown on both sides, remove and discard – this gives a wonderful flavour to the oil.
Turn the heat up and brown the breadcrumbs in the oil.
Arrange the fennel in a baking dish and pour over the mushroom sauce.
Top with the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.