Every great winter tailgate has something hot and bubbly. Eating outdoors during the cold weather months requires something a little heartier and more robust than typically traditional tailgate fare like burgers and hot dogs. This is the perfect time to break out the soups, stews and casseroles. Casseroles make great game day food because they’re quite easy to put together with a minimum amount of time and effort. They feed a crowd effectively and is easy to transport from a casual gathering at home to an exciting tailgate at the stadium. However, this week’s casserole is not just any casserole. We’re staying warm with our Cheesy Fennel Gratin. A gratin can be described as any type of dish that’s browned in the oven with a topping of cheese or bread crumbs. This one is a delicious baked vegetable casserole with plenty of melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs and fresh herbs. The result are tender roasted fennel bulbs bathed with chicken stock and wine with a scrumptious crunchy topping. This recipe is best served hot right out of the oven but can also be transported to any game day event and kept warm.
There’s something special about fennel. With its celery-like base and dill-like leaves, one may wonder what to expect from this unusual looking vegetable. Fennel dates all the way back as far as 1500 B.C. and has been long enjoyed by the Italians, French and Greeks. Its flavor is quite unique with a slightly sweet and spicy licorice taste and a crunchy texture. Perfect for adding a bright snap to a variety of dishes, fennel is a very popular ingredient, one that you’ll love utilizing during these cool winter months. You can slice them thin and enjoy them as part of a salad like in this Cocktail Grapefruit with Mixed Greens, Fennel and Parmesan. Braised or caramelized, fennel becomes tender and fragrant with an irresistible sweet, anise flavor. It also adds special depth to soups such as in this Fennel Potato Soup.
Cheesy Fennel Gratin
Yields: 6 servings
- 3 fennel or fennel bulbs
- 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup of chicken stock
- 1/3 cup of dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, diced
- 1 tablespoon of fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, grated
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1. Prepare the fennel. Remove the fronds and stalks of the fennel. Then cut the fennel bulb into quarters, then smaller 2-inch pieces.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a baking dish with the olive oil. Arrange the wedges in a single layer inside the baking dish.
3. Pour in the chicken stock and white wine. Then add the salt and pepper. Distribute the 2 tablespoons of diced butter throughout the dish.
4. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the fennel for around 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and raise the heat to 425 degrees.
5. Combine the melted butter, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, panko bread crumbs, and lemon zest. Spread the mixture evenly on top of the fennel.
6. Bake the fennel gratin for around 30 minutes until the top is nicely browned. Remove from the heat. Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve hot.