I have this huge book of comfort food that Saveur magazine published, and I love just flipping through it and drooling on the pictures. The food looks amazing. And it's full of butter and cream and cheese and all of those things that are bad for you but can fix almost anything - heartbreak, loneliness, an empty stomach. One of the recipes in the book is for fennel, something I haven't had the opportunity to cook with yet, so of course I had to try it.
Who would turn down anything cooked in cream and butter? Not me, and I don't think I'd get along with anyone who would. The licorice flavor of the fennel gets toned down by the cream, and it gets this lovely caramelization on the top that makes it so perfect on your tongue. It's savory and sweet and all things good. I did note to cut back on the butter (which is reflected in the recipe below) because I was getting butter puddles on the top of my fennel, but if you're related to Paula Deen, feel free to double the amount I have listed.
Finocchio al Forno (Fennel Baked in Cream)
From Saveur: The New Comfort Food by James Oseland and Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune restaurant
1½ pounds fennel (about 2 large bulbs), stalks removed, halved lengthwise, and cut into ½-inch wedges
2 cups heavy cream
1½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Preheat oven to 425°F. In a bowl, toss together fennel, cream, and 1 cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 3-qt. baking dish; dot with butter. Cover dish with foil; bake for 60 minutes.
Uncover baking dish; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake until fennel is tender, about 30 minutes more.