Crispy Cream-Braised Potatoes and Fennel

By • September 28, 2011 • 106 Comments

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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&MThe Editors

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 (106)

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

Comments (106) Questions (2)

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Stringio

21 days ago MeChelle Boyle Richling

I made this and it is delish! I used fresh dug Sunchokes instead of potatoes and fresh picked fennel from my garden.

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11 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.

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11 months ago EmilyC

Glad to hear this was well-received!

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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.

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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.

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almost 3 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!

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almost 3 years ago EmilyC

So happy to hear this, NWB!

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almost 3 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.

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almost 3 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!

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almost 3 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)

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almost 3 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!

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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!

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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!!

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almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

And welcome to FOOD52!!

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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! : )

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about 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!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 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?

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about 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!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 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.

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about 3 years ago ChristineB

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

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 3 years ago ashleyza

Congrats Emily!

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about 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!

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about 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!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 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.

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about 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!

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about 3 years ago Windtryst

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

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 3 years ago Windtryst

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

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about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

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

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

ChezSuzanne -- thanks so much!

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about 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!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 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!

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

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

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about 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.

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about 3 years ago EmilyC

What a nice comment -- thanks ChefJune!

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about 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.

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about 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?

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about 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.