Tonight I learned I don’t like fennel. Even caramelized and topped with creamy goat cheese, garlic, and dill. I just don’t like the underlying taste of the fennel bulb, I guess. Or the seeds. Oh well, at least I tried! Tonight I made the Caramelized Fennel with Goat Cheese (pg. 172) thinking it would be a light and easy dinner. It was light and it was…kind of easy. The ingredients were very simple and I already had almost everything, except the fennel bulbs and seeds. But those were an easy purchase. I first removed the “leafy fronds” (which got everywhere!), as Chef said, and sliced the fennel. This was a little difficult, as the bulbs were hard to stand on end. I ended up slicing them horizontally and they did not come out quite even, but I thought they were good enough.
Then into the frying pan! Chef said to have the burner on high heat and, just a warning, keep a lid for your pan nearby because the hot oil and butter really started to spatter when I added the sliced fennel. I let them fry and flipped them, getting a nice golden brown (the second batch turned more golden than the first). I bought 2 large fennel bulbs (Chef said to get 4 small) because they were expensive and it was just me, so after the 2 rounds of frying, I set them aside. Then it was time to caramelize the fennel seeds. I had my shake at caramelization before and I burnt it then…I thought I had learned my lesson. But no. I, once again, burnt the caramel. I just can’t seem to get it right! It is tough! It happens very quickly! This was definitely the hardest part of the recipe because when the caramelized seeds got burned they did not taste very good (at least in the tatin it added some flavor).
Then, after adding the fennel to the caramel for a few minutes, the slices were ready to be served, topped with garlic, dill, and young, creamy goat cheese (and a little lemon zest). I have to say, despite burning the caramlized seeds, my presentation looked nice! But then I tasted it. Not so much. I found myself adding more cheese to each bite and making sure there was quite a bit of dill on top! But even then, I did not care for the seeds (which could have been my fault for burning them or that I just don’t like them), nor for the fennel bulb itself. Even with the caramel, it was quite bitter. I am giving this recipe 2 stars. It just was not my favorite. I tried, but could not bring myself to enjoy the bitter fennel, despite the delicious spices and extras accompanying it. So, fennel gets a #fail from me
Mine (L); Chef’s (R, pg. 173).