Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fennelementary, my dear Watson

A New York Times article by Melissa Clark, who generally annoys me a little for reasons I can't quite pinpoint, advocated caramelizing onions and fennel together as a bed for a chicken breast, topped with a puree of garlic, lemon zest, and fennel fronds. It sounded simple and delicious, and I knew I had to try it. But as we all know, I don't eat chicken, so I decided to use an egg instead. Poetic, eh? Since I wasn't going to cook the vegetables in chicken breast residue and add Pernod to make a sauce, I deglazed the caramelizing vegetable pan with a bit of white wine and lemon juice and simply stirred the liquid in with the completed vegetables. Because eggs are relatively mild in flavor, I didn't add the prescribed fennel seeds, either, opting for a lighter licoricey taste. Another modification: I've had a little container of olive oil in which some thyme was soaking, so I used that instead of just straight olive oil in the frond puree.

I laid down a bed of lightly steamed chard first, followed by some of the caramelized vegetables, followed by the egg. I dressed the whole thing with the frond puree, which didn't get so much pureed as finely, finely minced. The egg you see in the photo isn't overdone; I just plopped it in the same pan used for caramelizing the veggies without cleaning the pan, so it picked up the brown residue that didn't come off with the deglazing. The lemon slice you see in the photo isn't just for garnish; I squeezed it over the whole mess for a bit more zing. Bonus: The chard got coated in yolk and was even more delicious than non-yolky chard. I didn't even have to slice into more bread to sop anything up. Better living through vegetables.

Add a little vinegar to the puree, or some lemon juice, and a touch more olive oil, and I could see it being a very fine salad dressing.

This was one of my better recent dinners (and lunch involved some Brie contributed by a friend, so I'm feeling lucky today), and there is plenty left over for lunch tomorrow. The only issue is that I can't very well fry an egg in the dining hall of the medical center, so maybe I'll buy some chickpeas at the salad bar to stir in for a little protein. Another downside is the high cost and touchy seasonality of fennel. Ah, well. I'll just have to find some other vegetables to caramelize along with onions! Any ideas?

Earlier today, I made apple-honey cupcakes in honor of Rosh Hashana, trying out a different recipe. Verdict: absolutely not as good as my standby. The cake part was extremely, extremely dense. It wasn't really a problem, since the whole thing mostly tasted like apples with a bit of dough and cinnamon in it, but I really prefer the light crumb and less apple-dense matrix of my usual cake. Don't worry, though, these were good enough to justify using up the apples.

No comments:

Post a Comment