Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fennel potato gratin

Fennel has such a lovely mild flavor that even if you don't like licorice, you will probably still like fennel. I adore licorice, so I'm a pretty big fan of fennel, too. And who doesn't like potatoes? (I don't think I've ever met anyone who didn't. Have you?)A gratin is pretty easy to assemble, even in the middle of the night.

Bring a mushed clove or two of garlic plus one bay leaf to boil in 1.5 cups of dairy (heavy cream, half-and-half or milk in any combination, but creamier is better) and a half-cup of chicken stock. Remove from heat and let steep as you prep the other ingredients. Preheat your oven to 375.

Thinly slice a handful of potatoes (I used Yukon golds) and a fennel bulb or two.

Remove the garlic cloves and bay leaf from the milk and mix the milk into the potatoes and fennel, along with a handful of grated parmesan, some salt and pepper, and a grating of nutmeg. Put it all in a buttered baking dish. Top with bread crumbs or more parmesan, or both. I used panko. Bake loosely covered for half an hour, and then uncovered for another 45 minutes to an hour. (Stick a knife into the potatoes to make sure they're completely soft.) If the top isn't brown enough for your liking, you can turn on the broiler for a minute.


  1. Those look delicious! I have only recently developed a taste for potatoes. My whole life I would only eat them if they were fried to a crisp in a chip or a fry. By my grandmother only ever cooked with russets and I still think those taste like dirt.

  2. Looks delicious! I have never had fennel! I need to try it!

  3. mmm, one of my favorite combinations! i love making gratins. do you have little individual gratin dishes? i love those, too!

  4. Fruitlady, you're my first tater-naysayer! Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;-) I can see where a dry russet would not be appealing. Gotta load it up with butter and cheese.

    Meg, you should, expecially if you like licorice or anise. It's a really nice mild but intriguing flavor. Also quite good shaved thin in salads with some apple. (As in this post.)

    Mimi, it's also good with leeks instead of fennel. Try that, too!

    Pink, I have a couple small gratin dishes, but I rarely use them. I'm usually making a larger batch than they can hold.

  5. Mmmm, I love fennel. I haven't tried it this way, looks wonderful!

  6. I should try your recipe, I never put fennel together with potatoes before. Looks yummy!

  7. This is odd. I bought my first ever bulb of fennel this morning. I didn't even know what a bulb of fennel looked like until then.

    I look at your blog, and there's a fennel bulb.