Crispy Cream-Braised Potatoes and Fennel

By • September 28, 2011 • 105 Comments

979 Save


Author Notes: I have a hard time deciding which I like more -- creamy potatoes (say, mashed or scalloped) or crispy, oven-roasted ones. So I set out to combine the best of both worlds. I braise the potatoes and fennel in half-and-half until they’re soft, tender, and well-seasoned, then pop them under the broiler with a showering of fresh herbs, cheese and orange zest until they get crispy and caramelized around the edges. It’s a nice dish for holiday entertaining because most of the work is done stove top, which is a blessing when you have one oven and a gazillion things to cook in it. The braised vegetables can be prepared in advance and broiled when you’re ready. It’s a simple dish that’s definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Served alongside roast chicken or turkey, it’s pretty hard to beat. - EmilyCEmilyC

Food52 Review: EmilyC has created the perfect lovechild of creamy and crispy potato sides. You first braise potatoes and fennel in cream, then perk them up with olive oil, chopped herbs, orange zest and pecorino before broiling them for a spell. It's no more difficult than your average holiday potatoes and will -- quite frankly -- blow your guests' minds. Oh, and save that cream! You can drizzle it over roast chicken or cooked greens or fold it into mashed potatoes another day. - A&MA&M

Serves 4

  • 3 yukon gold potatoes (about 1.5 pounds) – peeled and cut into irregular 1.5" to 2" chunks
  • 2 fennel bulbs (about 1.5 pounds) – trimmed (with tough or bruised outer layers removed), then cut lengthwise into wedges about 1.5” wide (leaving core intact)
  • About 2 to 3 cups of half-and-half or cream, or enough to cover the vegetables
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 or 4 large springs of thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 1 large leafy sprig of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • heaping ¼ cup finely grated pecorino romano (or parmesan reggiano)
  • zest from 1 small orange, finely grated
  • olive oil
  1. In a 3 to 4 quart pan, combine potatoes, fennel wedges, bay leaf, and fennel seed. Add enough half-and-half to fully cover the potatoes and fennel. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring the half-and-half to a simmer, then lower heat to just maintain the simmer. Cook until the potatoes and fennel are soft and tender, about 20 minutes. Take off the heat. The potatoes and fennel should be fully cooked at this point.
  2. While potatoes and fennel are braising, preheat broiler to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine rosemary, thyme, pecorino, and orange zest.
  3. Remove potatoes and fennel wedges from the half-and-half with a spider or slotted spoon, and transfer them to a gratin or casserole dish. Some of the half-and-half will cling to the vegetables, which is a good thing. Make sure to generously coat the bottom with olive oil to prevent sticking. Taste the potatoes and fennel for seasoning – if you need more salt or pepper, add them now. Toss with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon), then the herb-cheese-orange zest mixture. Arrange the potatoes and fennel wedges in a single layer to promote even browning.
  4. Place the casserole dish under the broiler (about 6 inches away from the source of heat). Broil for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the potatoes and fennel are caramelized and crispy around the edges. (I typically brown the vegetables more than the ones in the picture above...just leave them under the broiler until they've reached your desired crispness!)
Jump to Comments (105)

Tags: braised, broiled, Fennel, holiday side dish, potatoes , prep in advance

Comments (105) Questions (2)

Default-small
Default-small
Default-small

9 months ago Mateo

My couldn't get enough of this. The only change I made was using purple unpeeled potatoes and used fenugreek seeds instead of fennel. I served the leftover cream on the side.

Img_7818

9 months ago EmilyC

Glad to hear this was well-received!

Default-small

almost 2 years ago Dillon

Made this last night, and it was great, I actually doubled the recipe. Everyone including my 4 boys (ranging 4 years to 9 months) loved it, even the vegetable hating dad loved it (resulting in no leftovers). This was definitely the choice to introduce my children to fennel. It was so easy to make, especially with chasing kids, that it's going to be a regular addition.

Img_7818

almost 2 years ago EmilyC

So happy to hear that you and your family enjoyed the dish! I need to take a page from your book and make this for my kids soon! Thanks for trying it and reporting back.

Poppy_bone

over 2 years ago NWB

I made this last night and it was wonderful. I love that the fennel infuses the potatoes with flavor. I used whole milk and russet potatoes since they were what I had and we ate every bit of it. Thanks for a great new addition to potato dishes at my house!

Img_7818

over 2 years ago EmilyC

So happy to hear this, NWB!

3-bizcard

over 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am so bad, i just saw this on the feed and remembered that I made this and didn't give you feedback. Well, its amazingly delicious. Every bit was eaten by all, not a morsel left. It was the hit of the party!! Thank you for a great recipe.

Img_7818

over 2 years ago EmilyC

Au contraire -- you are one of the best cooks on this site when it comes to commenting and giving feedback to others! I'm so happy that you made this and liked it so much!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

What a great recipe!! I made this last night, served with a spatchcocked chicken braise-roasted with onions, fresh herbs and a splash of Burgundy, and roasted Brusslies (Brussels sprouts) on the side. So delicious! I saved the fragrant braising cream to use in dinner rolls. After all, with the potato starch in the cream -- not to mention the bay and fennel flavors-- it simply must be used in bread of some kind! (It would also make an outstanding savory rice pudding.) ;o)

Img_7818

over 2 years ago EmilyC

AJ -- I'm so happy to hear that you liked this! I also like serving it with roast chicken and brussels sprouts, which are mainstay dishes for us in the winter months. (Just a few months ago I tried Amanda's braise-roasted spatchcocked chicken for the first time...so, so good!) Great idea to use the cream in dinner rolls, too. Thanks so much for reporting back!

Kweli_goes_wild_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Kwelicakes

I made this for my dinner last night. It was so wonderful, I had it again tonight. I'm not nearly the cook you young women are here, but I imagine if I stick around, I could be. Thank you for this scrumpdiddleleeumptious recipe. It's a keeper!

Dscn3274

almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I love your attitude ( and your dog biscuit comment!)...you're probably a much better cook than you let on... and this recipe is wonderful!!

Dscn3274

almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

And welcome to FOOD52!!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Ditto to what inpatskitchen wrote -- welcome, and I'm so happy you liked this dish enough to have it two nights in a row! : )

Imagesca1rwz7p

almost 3 years ago babs1652

This was just EXCELLENT! We had it for dinner tonight to rave reviews. The balance of both flavours and textures was perfect. I will enjoy making this again and again. Our Canadian Thanksgiving has passed but I can definitely see a spot for this on my Christmas table. Thanks so much for posting it!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

I'm so happy to hear this! Thanks so much for reporting back!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am going to make this for a potluck holiday party and have to triple the recipe would you recommend baking it in two shallow baking dishes or do you think its alright to make one large one that is thick. My gut tells me 2 as it would impact the baking time if its too thick, what are your recommendations?

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

I'm so happy you're going to try this dish! I agree with you and recommend baking it in two pans so you can spread the vegetables out in as close to a single layer as possible. If the vegetables are too thick in the pan, you won't get the crispy edges throughout. Enjoy and please let me know how it turns out!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

And that should be broiling it in two pans -- not baking!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Good to know my instincts were correct. I will use 2 pans. I know everyone will love it. Will let you know how it goes!! Thank you.

Img_6863

almost 3 years ago ChristineB

This dish is awesome!! My dinner guests and I LOVED the addition of orange zest to the crispy topping!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, ChristineB! I'm so happy that you and your guests liked this dish!

Default-small

almost 3 years ago ashleyza

Congrats Emily!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks ashleyza! And congrats to you, too. I'm looking forward to trying your sweet potato dish...it looks so delicious!

Default-small

almost 3 years ago CandaceKaru

This recipe is definitely praise-worthy. Not only does it look good, I tried it last night and it's divine. A well-deserved win!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

So happy you tried and liked it, CandaceKaru! Thanks so much for reporting back!

Cimg0737

almost 3 years ago cookinginvictoria

Yay -- congratulations on your big win, Emily! I have had my eye on this recipe ever since you posted it. Fennel is my all-time favorite vegetable, and I love the fact that the potatoes and the fennel in this dish are both creamy and crispy. So great too that this can be made ahead and doesn't require major oven time. Saved -- this is on my list of recipes to try soon. I can definitely see this dish on my holiday table this year.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much cookinginvictoria! I love fennel too...and it's so delicious braised in cream. I also like the fact it can be made ahead...it's a very foolproof / forgiving dish for entertaining! Would love to know if you try it!

Open-uri20140921-13793-1krfpvw

almost 3 years ago Windtryst

Loved this recipe, if I can figure out how to upload a photo, I will show you mine...

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Windtryst -- so glad you tried it, and I'd love to see your photo!

Open-uri20140921-13793-1krfpvw

almost 3 years ago Windtryst

Loved this recipe, if I can figure out how to upload a photo, I will show you mine...

Me

almost 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats!!! This looks so wonderful - I can't wait to try it!!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

ChezSuzanne -- thanks so much!

Img_2474

almost 3 years ago Sydney

Congrats, EmilyC! This is absolutely the love child of crispy and creamy potatoey goodness. Cannot wait to see what you come up with next!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much Sydney. I too love A&M's lovechild description for this dish!

Img_1958

almost 3 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations, EmilyC! This recipe has been calling to me since you posted it, and is at the top of my list to make. I'm so happy for you!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much gingerroot -- that means a lot coming from you! Hope you enjoy the dish when you make it!

Junechamp

almost 3 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congrats on the win! I loved this recipe first time I saw it. Might make it this weekend if I can find decent fennel.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

What a nice comment -- thanks ChefJune!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Wow, congratulations, I didn't know they announced a winner. So happy for you and thank you for a fantastic recipe.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks sdebrango! It took me awhile to realize that I'd won, too! And you're very welcome...it's one of many good options for the holiday table. With so many great recipes on this site, I know it's going to be hard for me to land on a Thanksgiving menu! Wouldn't it be fun (and informative) to share our menus on the site?

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

It really would be fun, and you are so right, there are so many fantastic recipes I want to make them all. I always cook like I am cooking for an army if I were to make everything I would like to make I could feed my whole neighborhood, Definitely we should share what we are making or have made, Congrats again, so well deserved.

Dscn3274

almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Congratulations EmilyC!! So happy for you!!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, inpatskitchen! It's a happy day!

Img_0022_profile

almost 3 years ago ashleypiersonchasesdinner

Congrats EmilyC! What a fantastic recipe. I agree with you about which to love more, creamy potatoes or roasted! So glad you gave us a recipe to have the best of both!!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Ashley -- so glad you like it!

Cakes

almost 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats on a great win, EmilyC! I plan to make this this week.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, Bevi! I'm excited about the win! I hope you like the dish -- let me know how it turns out.

Img00019-20100929-0432_1_

almost 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

I made this last night with the yukon golds - amazing. I'm sure the Russet's would of worked but the yukons texture with the fennel were perfect. This will be introduced on Turkey Day - the make-ahead is awesome. Delish and well done - winner!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Your comment just made my morning -- thank you! So glad you liked it!

Default-small

almost 3 years ago Edgewatercook

Another winner from you, EmilyC. I am envisioning this nested with some perfectly roasted pork....Thanks for a great new side dish!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thank you Edgewatercook -- and I like your idea of this dish with roast pork! Let me know if you try it!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Edgewatercook -- this dish would be great alongside roast pork. Let me know if you try it!

Stringio

almost 3 years ago Lynn Schick

Trying this tonite as a part of my meatless monday menu. I will serve it over some spinach and arugula salad and add a over easy egg for some protein. As it is only two of us I added a cubed celery root and onion wedges to the pan along with a few cups of chicken stock and reduced the amount of the half and half. I took out what we will eat tonite and will proceed with recipe as written and then I pureed the rest adding back to remaining liquid. If the dish tastes as good as the soup (will use it later this week) I am sure to agree that this is a keeper!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks for reporting back, Lynn! I'm happy that you're trying it...the celery root and onion are nice additions!

Default-small

almost 3 years ago Cherry 366

This looks absolutely delicious. I'm thinking of adding it to this years Thanksgiving dinner. Can any part of it be prepared ahead of time?

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Cherry 366! And yes -- the potatoes and fennel can be braised in advance, and then just broiled at the last minute. Hope you enjoy!

Christine-28_small(1)

almost 3 years ago cheese1227

This looks fabulous. Sophistocated and simple in one. Great recipe.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, cheese1227!

Default-small

almost 3 years ago Regbac

Looking forward to cook it tonight.....

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

That's great to know, Regbac -- I hope you enjoy it!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

This one is calling to me. Loudly. Definitely on the menu this week. ;o)

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks AJ! I'd be thrilled if you try it! Let me know how it turns out.

Buddhacat

almost 3 years ago SKK

This recipe is amazing!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks SKK -- you're very kind!

Food54_profile_pic

almost 3 years ago Ms. T

YUM! I would like to snap my fingers and have this waiting for me at the dinner table tonight :)

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Now that is a super power I'd love to have! Thanks Ms. T!

Dsc_0028

almost 3 years ago cookbookchick

EmilyC, this looks delicious! Please tell us have you tried making it with cream rather than half and half and if so, which do you prefer?

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks cookbookchick! I've only used half and half, but certainly cream would be lovely here. My hunch is that there's not a big difference in overall flavor and texture between using half and half versus cream...

Nlp_8843

almost 3 years ago aquarius

Love the idea of a Thanksgiving staple that doesn't have to take up space in my oven. Can't wait to try this!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks aquarius! Someday I dream of having double wall ovens, but until then, dishes like this make holiday entertaining a lot less stressful!

Fb

almost 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Congratulations! This looks divine...love fennel, and the combination of mashed and crispy potatoes is wonderful

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks BKR -- the crispy edges are my favorite part of this dish!

Img_1958

almost 3 years ago gingerroot

Congratulations, EmilyC! I am thrilled this is a finalist.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much gingerroot! I'd love to know what you think if you try it sometime!

Summer_2010_1048

almost 3 years ago Midge

Don't know how I miss this one, sounds amazing. Way to go EmilyC!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks, Midge! I'm honored to be a finalist among so many great recipes this week.

Img_0022_profile

almost 3 years ago ashleypiersonchasesdinner

Congratulations, this looks delicious! Can't wait to try!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks ashley -- that means a lot!

Img_0343_copy

almost 3 years ago cupcakemuffin

This sounds super delicious - I love fennel (and who doesn't love potatoes!)...definitely will be trying this soon.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much! I'd love to know what you think if you try it!

Ozoz_profile

almost 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

How delicious does this look. Congratulations

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Kitchen Butterfly! And I agree -- it DOES look delicious...the photograph of the dish is just amazing...I LOVE that gratin pan!

Cakes

almost 3 years ago Bevi

Congrats!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Bevi!

3-bizcard

almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations EmilyC, so happy you are a finalist. This recipe is wonderful and I plan on making it.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks sdebrango -- I'm happy too, and extremely honored!

Gator_cake

almost 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Congrats, EmilyC! This looks fabulous, and I can definitely see it ending up on my Thanksgiving table.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much HLA -- I'd love to know if you try it!

Sdc12568

almost 3 years ago Laurenzim

Love this recipe and the idea of just braising potatoes in cream to begin with!!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Laurenzim! I really like cooking them this way...they have a different flavor and texture than adding cream at the end.

Default-small

almost 3 years ago Edgewatercook

Thanks, EmilyC. Another winner from your kitchen!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks so much, Edgewatercook!

Img_1958

almost 3 years ago gingerroot

You had me at cream braised fennel and then along with buttery yukons, oh my. I could eat this whole dish by myself.

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks gingerroot! I definitely ate my fair share when I made it earlier this week! : )

Me

almost 3 years ago wssmom

Saved! I love fennel and potatoes!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks! I love them, too. Course, I've never met a potato dish I don't like...

Nog

almost 3 years ago Niknud

Oh yum. I love fall/winter cooking, and this sounds just perfect to make ahead on Sunday to broil for a Monday night supper when you just can't face the fact that you're both leaving and coming home in the dark!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks Niknud! Leaving and coming home in the dark is just too depressing...especially when you're faced with hungry kiddos and no dinner in sight. So your idea about prepping this in advance is a great one!

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

almost 3 years ago lapadia

Yum, I am not usually into mashed potato, your idea sounds great, love the name too!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks lapadia! I love mashed potatoes but these are a welcome change. I'm anxious to try the same technique with other root vegetables.

Massimo's_deck_reflection_10_27_13

almost 3 years ago lapadia

Congrats and luck on being a finalist!!!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks again lapadia!

Img00019-20100929-0432_1_

almost 3 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

Must try this!

Img_7818

almost 3 years ago EmilyC

Thanks! It's pretty foolproof, as long as you don't walk off and forget about the pan under the broiler (which I've been known to do)...