This is a wonderful accompaniment for roast chicken or salmon. Ideally buy large, fat bulbs rather than the weedier thin ones which can be a bit stringy. I prefer to steam rather than boil the fennel as it is less watery and keeps more of its flavour but if you boil it make sure the fennel is quite dry before putting it in the gratin dish.
- 3 fat heads fennel, trimmed and halved lengthways
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 75g cubed pancetta
- 300ml double cream
- 50g gruyère cheese, grated
- 15g breadcrumbs
- Heat the oven to 190˚c, fan oven 170˚, mark 5. Place the fennel halves in a steamer and steam for 15-20 minutes or until really tender- a knife inserted into the thickest part should glide through. Place in an ovenproof dish and scatter over the garlic and pancetta. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Mix together the gruyère cheese and breadcrumbs. Pour over the cream and sprinkle the cheese and breadcrumb mixture over the surface. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes until bubbling and golden. Finish under the grill for a minute or two if the top is not quite toasted enough.