Have you ever had a veg box delivered, looked at its contents and thought what on earth am I going to make with that? Last week I looked in my veg box and discovered a large and lovely fennel. What on earth was I going to make with that? After a big think I decided to make an experimental Fennel & Potato Gratin. Was my experiment a success or a failure?
I’ve eaten fennel many times, but never cooked with it. I do like fennel but it can be an acquired taste. It’s got a gentle aniseed flavour which reminds me of sambuca (yes I did have a misspent youth, thank you for asking). I thought it would work well in a potato gratin and it did.
It is really easy to put together and fairly quick to prepare. This Fennel & Potato Gratin would be a lovely side dish for almost any hearty, wintery meal. I made a pie to go with it and served it with a big pile of veg (from my veg box). It was a roaring success. We all fought fiercely over the crispy bits and we all had seconds. I will be making this again and again and again, veg box permitting of course!
In my recipe I’ve slightly pre-cooked the fennel and potatoes before they go into the oven. I’ve been caught out by undercooked gratins before and giving everything a little head start helped ensure everything was properly cooked. I’ve also not peeled my potatoes, partly because I like the skin and partly because I’m a little bit lazy.
Fennel & Potato Gratin
Serves 4 as a side dish
3 medium potatoes, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon of butter
200mls double cream
Salt & pepper
How to make your Fennel & Potato Gratin
Put boiling water into a pan and put it on low. Finely slice your potatoes. I don’t have a mandolin so I slice them by hand. I leave the skin on because I like the skin, but peel them if you prefer. Put your slices in the pan, you don’t want to cook them, just get them started a little. If you have a mandolin and have wafer thin slices you can skip this part.
Next prepare your fennel. Slice into pieces about an inch in length and no more than an inch wide. I put them into a microwavable dish with a drop of water and microwaved for 3 minutes, again just to get it started.
In a pan, melt your butter and add your crushed clove of garlic, stir for a moment to take the raw garlic edge off it and remove from the heat. Pour in your double cream, season and stir. You are now ready to assemble your Fennel & Potato Gratin.
Pre-heat your oven to 220°. In an ovenproof dish, layer potatoes, then fennel, then potatoes and fennel and last potatoes. You can season between layers if you like. Once you have filled your dish and there is a layer of potatoes on the top, gently press down to help the layers settle.
Put your ovenproof dish on a baking sheet (this will catch the creamy dribbles in the oven) and carefully pour over the garlic cream mixture. Do this in dribs and drabs until the dish is full. If you’ve got some, grate some Parmesan over the top and put in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling, golden and looking gorgeous.
This was such a hit with my family with everyone diving in for seconds. It’s a real winter warmer dish and one I’ll be making regularly.
Looking for a perfect match? This would be great with my delicious slow cooked beef stew with red wine.