March 23, 2015

Crispy Pan Fried Fennel

I'm not sure why I've never breaded and pan fried fennel before now. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables, and anything tastes ten times better when covered in bread and fried in oil. Since I'm going on a beach vacation in about nine weeks, I have to hold off on covering foods in bread and frying them in oil. But if your beach vacation has already passed, you should immediately buy a head of fennel and try this recipe, even if you don't like fennel.

Cooking fennel reduces its licorice-like flavor and the panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan create a salty, crusty crunch. Add a bit of lemon zest and it's out of this world. While breading my fennel, I tried to think of an invention for a gadget that would instantly bread things, but I don't think it's possible. I guess I'm not going on Shark Tank anytime soon. Anyway, happy Spring! It's freezing out.


Makes 2-4 servings

1 bulb fennel
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
Coarse salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3/4 cups vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Slice the fennel bulb in half from top to bottom. Place each half cut side down and slice root to tip (so root keeps fennel layers in tact) into 1/4 inch slices. 

2. Pour the flour into a shallow bowl. Crack the egg into a separate shallow bowl, whisk it well and add a pinch of salt and pepper. In a third shallow bowl, add the bread crumbs, cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Dredge each fennel slice lightly in flour, shaking off any excess, then dredge it in egg, and then in the bread crumb mixture, pressing firmly and shaking off any excess bread crumbs.

3. Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Check to make sure the oil is hot enough by tossing a pinch of breadcrumbs into the pan. If it sizzles, it's ready to go. Pan fry the fennel slices in batches until they're golden brown on each side. Transfer them to paper towels to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle with lemon zest and salt and serve immediately.

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