Braised Fennel with Verjuice, Caper Berries and Olives
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Step 1: Trim and discard the fronds from the fennel, then cut each of the bulbs lengthways into approximately 1 centimeter thick slices.
Step 2: Place the butter into a large non-stick frying pan and place over high heat, once the butter starts to turn nut-brown add half of the olive oil. Turn the heat down slightly, then place in the slices of fennel and cook on each side for 5 to 6 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown (if you find that they are colouring too much turn down the heat slightly). Remove from the pan and set aside.
Step 3: Turn the heat back up and once the pan is hot add the garlic cloves (be careful as they will spit) and sauté off for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the caper berries and olives and cook for a further 2 minutes.
Step 4: Deglaze the pan with the Verjuice and once this has reduced by half, pour in the tomatoes and vegetable stock and return the fennel bulb to the pan. Add the thyme and a good pinch of sea salt. Reduce the heat and bring to a gentle simmer with a lid on the pan and allow to cook for 12 to 14 minutes (turn the fennel once during this time).
Step 5: The fennel should be soft and cooked through, and the sauce thickened. If the sauce is still slightly runny, remove the lid and simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 6: To serve, place the fennel slices onto a platter then pour over the sauce. Top with ricotta and lemon zest and drizzle with the remaining Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
RECIPE INSPIRED BY YOTAM OTTOLENGHI