Any method of cooking fennel that doesn’t throw away the flavour with the water is good but this is one of the best, I think. To cook fennel with pasta I always stew slices of it in olive oil or butter first and toss the lot into the pasta dish. Fennel is excellent also in a stock base because it leaks its flavour so easily into water. It is really important that you get fennel bulbs that are very firm, white and preferably fat - endlessly removing expensive, stringy layers can be very depressing. As an accompaniment, you will need from half to one bulb per person, depending on size.
TRIM A BIT OFF THE END of the fennel bulb, then cut it lengthways into four or six pieces. You may have to lose the outer layer if it seems stringy or tough. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy pan and toss the fennel in it. Cook at a moderate heat for five minutes or so, then pour in half a glass of white wine, the same of water and some seasoning. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for five minutes. Now transfer the lot to a warmed oven dish and cover with foil (or better still put the pot in the oven if it is that kind of pot). Cook for 15 minutes in a moderate oven, turn the fennel and continue cooking until the fennel is tender and lightly browned in places ~ another 15 minutes should do it but that depends on the fennel and the oven. If you’re not in a hurry, slow and gentle is best.
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