I just couldn’t resist a massive crunchy bulb of fennel at the market the other week. It seemed to be crying out ‘take me home!’.
Young small bulbs are irresistible sliced paper-thin and eaten raw, but the larger ones, like this one, are best suited to braising so the flavour mellows out and sweetens.
The addition of fresh orange juice adds another layer of sweetness and makes it a great partner for pork, which I sat on top of the fennel while it braised.
Click the button below for photos of the final result, to get the easy recipe and see a drool-worthy crackling shot!
The finished dish – don’t you just love the browned, crispy bits?
It’s perfect served hot, warm or at room temperature. We had leftovers the next day on crusty bread and dolloped with apple sauce.
I just had to show you this lovely crackling shot, mmmm! I’m a proud Mummy of this yummy little crispy pork baby. Ha!
Orange braised fennel recipe
serves 4 (as a side dish)
1 large or two medium fennel bulbs (about 500g)
3-4 small waxy potatoes (I used kipflers)
1 medium red onion
2 garlic bulbs, peeled and lightly bruised
1. Preheat the (fan-forced) oven to 180C/350F.
2. Slice the fennel bulbs into thick wedges. Snip off the pretty fronds (tops) and reserve for garnish. Place the fennel in a large, deep baking dish.
3. Slice the potatoes into 1cm thick discs and the red onion into thin wedges. Add to the baking dish along with the garlic. Season well with salt and pepper.
4. Juice and zest the oranges and pour over the vegetables, then add enough water to cover them halfway.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the liquid has almost evaporated and the vegetables are soft and tinged brown at the edges. You may need to top up the water level slightly if it dries out too quickly, all ovens are different (see note below).
6. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Optional: I made this with a rolled pork roast sitting on top of the vegetables and the juices to ran into the vegetables, making it even tastier. Because I had the roast (which was about 1kg) baking for 75 minutes I had to top up the water levels, but you might not have to if you only cook it for the time specified above.
Looking for more vegetable side dishes? Try these: