Braised Fennel with Olives and Oranges
by Steven Satterfield
6 to 8 servings
The classic accents of briny olives and tart oranges balance the mellow sweetness of fennel when it is cooked until fork-tender. I prefer picholine and Kalamata olives when I make this, but feel free to choose your favorite varieties. Note that some of the olive brine is added to the dish instead of salt. Taste the liquid in the pan after all the ingredients are combined to check for seasoning, and adjust as needed before cooking.
4 fennel bulbs, quartered if small, cut into sixths or eighths if larger
2 oranges, quartered, seeds removed
1/2 cup olives packed in brine; more than one variety is fine
1/2 cup olive brine
2 stalks spring leeks or spring onions
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, if needed
Heat the oven to 300°F. Arrange the fennel across the bottom of a deep braising pan or ovenproof dish in a single layer. Squeeze the oranges over the fennel, then add the rinds to the pan. Add the whole olives and the measured olive brine. Trim the spring leeks or onions into 1-inch pieces and add to the pan. Add the wine, olive oil, and butter; add pepper and (if needed) salt; and cover the pan with parchment and aluminum foil or a lid. Bake on the center rack of the oven until fork-tender, about 60 minutes. This dish can also be cooked, covered, over medium-low heat on the stove top, until tender.