Fennel Gratin, Roast Chicken, and a night to remember

At 11pm, I felt relief. A few minutes later, I felt admiration for McCain showing his true colors by conceding with dignity. Then Barack stepped up and said what we all knew was true: tonight we have only opened the door — now the hard work truly begins. We shall see what kind of President Barack Obama really becomes, but I am glad this country chose hope and change. Americans believe that our country is a beacon, and it is time we earned that belief once more. This country has a lot to do and fix, but tonight, I am happy.

But wait, food what when how?

Tonight we made two dishes: a roasted chicken stuffed with olives and potatoes from Stacey at Stacey Snacks, and a fennel gratin from an Alice Waters recipe. Both were absolutely delicious.

Fennel Gratin, slightly adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food

2 large fennel bulbs
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup fennel cooking liquid
Salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
pinch of hot hungarian paprika
pinch of hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp of minced fennel frond

Cut the fennel bulbs in half and then into wedges. Mince up a small amount of the fennel fronds and set aside. Boil the wedges in salted water for 5 minutes. Remove the fennel with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid.

Next, make a white sauce by melting the butter on medium heat, adding the flour, and cooking for a couple minutes, whisking constantly. Then slowly add the milk and fennel cooking liquid in small amounts, whisking as you go. Once the liquid is mixed in, lower the heat to a very soft simmer and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in a couple of pinches of salt, and the nutmeg, paprika, pepper flakes, and parmesan (note: Waters uses cayenne pepper instead of the hot paprika and pepper flakes).

Butter a baking dish and spread out the fennel wedges, and spoon the sauce on top. Bake in an oven set at 375F or 400F for 30 minutes or so (note: Waters calls for 375F, but we had the oven set to 400F since we were also finishing the chicken roast). When the tops are browned, remove, sprinkle with a little salt, pepper and the fennel fronds, and serve.

Comment: I found that the amounts for the white sauce led to a thick sauce that did not cover all of the fennel, but that actually ended up being a good thing, keeping the dish from being too rich and allowing you as the eater to choose what kind of mouthful you wanted.

chicken roast

The other part of the meal was a roast chicken with potatoes, olives, capers, rosemary and other good stuff. We spotted this recipe on Stacey Snacks (link), and Lisl prepped and cooked the dish. It was marvelous. Follow that link to the recipe, and listen when Stacey says to make sure that the potatoes are cooked before you put it all in the oven, because the potatoes stuffed inside the chicken will not cook all that much, even in the oven for 1 hr 15 minutes at 400F.

Happy election day.

  • FoodJunkie

    Only time can tell what kind of President Obama will be. In the meantime we can enjoy you rlovely cooking! I love the gratin.

  • kat

    Oh I want that fennel gratin now for breakfast!

  • Stacey Snacks

    Giff,
    I am so glad Lisl made the chicken/potato stuffing recipe!
    Your photos look YUMMY.

    Great election night last night.
    I am very hopeful and opttimistic for our country!

    I used to make Jamie Oliver’s fennel gratin, similar to Alice’s recipe, but no milk.

  • Maria

    It all looks amazing, but that gratin looks especially divine.

    Indeed, last night was a night to remember. I remember saying he’d go all the way even before the primaries had begun and my family not having faith this country would be open to that possibility. I hope and pray he is now up to the task and deals with this nation’s issues head on.

  • mikky

    what a great meal!!! and congratulations to you and the rest of the Americans who opted for change… i hope we will learn from you guys… 🙂

  • Joie de vivre

    I’ve only had fennel once and ate it raw (it is a very new veggie for me) so I am excited to see your fennel recipe. It is gorgeous and looks delicious to boot.

  • Chef E

    This looks amazing and yummy! I am not fond of fennel, but would try this. I think it is the licorice aspect of it I don’t care for.

  • Chef E

    oh, I am so sorry, it’s not fennel seeds, I love the vegetable ooops!

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  • Nurit "1 family. friendly. food."

    Loved the title! Food looks great. I have Alice’s book but haven’t cooked anyhting from it yet. I have to try this one. The chicken sounds gooood too.