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Author Notes: In the times when I was fresh out of home, poor and in need of comfort, I would make a perfectly unassuming dish from Stephanie Alexander called "braised fennel in meat juices with cheese". The oddly unflattering name never came close to doing it justice. Over time the recipe became a quick weeknight pasta dish with bacon, garlic and a little hit of warming chilli, but the heart remained the same. It's deceptively rich for something so simple and the perfect thing for a rainy afternoon. —Zoe C
strips bacon, cut into lardons
fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1/2" thick wedges
cloves garlic, minced
pinch chilli flakes
cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, less if quite salty)
pound dried pasta
handful grated parmesan
Salt and black pepper
tablespoons reserved fennel fronds, finely chopped
- Cook the bacon and fennel wedges in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate-high heat until fennel is golden on both sides and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon and reserve.
- Add garlic and chilli flakes to pan, stir until fragrant. Add stock and simmer for about 10 minutes until fennel is tender. Adding more stock or water if required to prevent it from drying out.
- Meanwhile cook pasta in plenty of boiling water and turn on broiler to preheat. When pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
- When fennel is soft but not mushy, remove lid and return reserved bacon to pan. Season to taste. Scatter over a generous handful of parmesan and cook under broiler until crisp and golden.
- To serve, toss through pasta and scatter with fennel fronds and plenty of black pepper.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Fennel