Another classic from The Greasy Spoon, to which I've given a subtle twist. Fennel has that lovely licourishy, aniseedy taste; and this recipe brings out these flavours to the full. The photograph shows a selection of fennel bulbs at a local farmers' market.
Trim the fennel and cut them into wedges. In a pan, saute them in unsalted butter, so that they get brown all over, and slightly caramelised.
Next, you're going to braise them. Braising is an old-fashioned technique, which uses a small amount of liquid. In effect you are using the rising steam as a cooking method, and you will be left with a thickish sauce which is created by reduction.
When the fennel wedges are sufficiently brown, add a teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper, a splash of fresh orange juice, a small dash of Pernod, some meat stock, and a dash of balsamic vinegar. The liquid should come about a quarter to half-way up the pan. Bring to the boil (you want to burn off the alchohol from the Pernod), then turn down the heat and simmer, basting the fennel now and again with the sauce. Put the lid back on the pan.
After about fifteen minutes or so, your fennel should be nicely braised, and glazed by the orange and balsamic sauce. It might be a good idea to shake the pan now and again, while the braising is going on to stop the fennel burning. Arrange the cooked fennel in a dish, and pour over the reduced sauce.