Our local grocery store is kind enough to donate their vegetable and fruit scraps to us as a supplement to our pigs’ diet.
If the pigs’ weekly loot is any indication, fennel is not a terribly popular vegetable, which is unfortunate, as it is one of my favorites, and I believe it is deserving of so much more love. From humans. Pigs seem to love it without needing even the slightest bit of convincing, but humans, humans are a different story.
In addition to making for a good side dish for Thanksgiving, this dish can be used as a topping for focaccia or flatbread pizza (with goat cheese and pine nuts it’s quite tasty), is lovely tossed with Israeli cous cous, quinoa, or farro, and also serves well as a bed for roasted or grilled pork (oops – sorry, pigs!) and chicken.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large fennel bulbs (approximately 2 pounds), fronds and root-end trimmed, bulb sliced crosswise into ¼-inch rounds
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- the zest and juice of 1 navel orange (approximately 3 tablespoons of juice)
- 2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then drained
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add the fennel slices and sauté until the fennel is soft and translucent, 13 to 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the sugar over the fennel in the pan, stir well, and sauté until the sugar begins to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the orange juice and zest to the fennel, toss the raisins into the pan, stir well, then simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and serve it forth.