Fall into the kitchen with brussels sprouts and fennel!

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Brussels Sprouts Kraut

Ingredients:

  • 16 cups filtered water
  • 2 cups champagne vinegar
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 24 cups Brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 dried hot chile
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked

Procedure:

  1. In a large pot, bring the water, vinegar, and salt to a boil. Cool to room temperature. 
  2. In a tall, large ceramic crock or food-grade plastic container, mix the Brussels sprouts with the garlic, bay leaves, chile, and peppercorns. Pour the brine over the top, completely submerging all of the Brussels sprouts. (You should have some brine left over).
  3. The sprouts have a tendency to float. To ensure they stay submerged while they ferment, make a weight: Place a plate or plastic lid directly on top of the Brussels sprouts. Pour the leftover brine into a resealable plastic storage bag and place it on top.  
  4. Store kraut at a cool room temperature (60-65 degrees) for 2 to 3 weeks, or until the fermentation stops. Bubbles on the surface will indicate that the fermentation is going strong. Periodically skim off foam with a ladle and scrape away any mold that may adhere to the sides of the container or surface. When there are no longer bubbles on the surface of the brine, the fermentation is done. Transfer the sprouts to a clean container and refrigerate it. If the sprouts stay submerged in the brine, it will keep for a few months in the refrigerator. 

 

Adapted from The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux by Paul Virant with Kate Leahy


Fennel Braised with Thyme and Black Olives

Ingredients:

  • 3 large or 4 medium fennel bulbs (about 3 pounds total)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted oil-cured black olives, such as Nyons or Moroccan
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 to 6 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought

Procedure:

  1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Trimming the fennel: If the fennel came with the feathery green stalks attached, use a large knife to chop these off right down at their base, where the bulb begins. Reserve a few of the brightest and freshest-looking fronds for garnish, and save the rest for stock or discard. If the very base of the fennel bulbs looks brown or at all dried out, slice off a thin sliver. Check the sides of the bulbs as well, and trim off any brown parts with a vegetable peeler. Cut each bulb in half through the core and then halve again, into quarters.
  3. Browning the fennel: Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy-based skillet over medium-high heat until it ripples. Add as many quarters of fennel as will fit, one cut side down. Leave the fennel undisturbed for 3 minutes—moving the pieces around will only slow down the browning process. With tongs, lift a few quarters to check to see if they’ve browned in spots. Because of its uneven surface, the fennel won’t brown evenly: you’re looking for patches of caramelization. Turn the quarters onto the other cut side and leave again until browned, another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the quarters from the pan and arrange them browned side up in a large gratin dish or shallow baking dish (about 9x13"). Add the remaining oil to the skillet and brown the remaining fennel. Add this batch of fennel to the gratin dish, arranging it as best you can so the wedges line up in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the olives. 
  4. The aromatics and braising liquid: Combine the garlic, anchovies, thyme, fennel seeds, and coriander in a small saucepan, and smash the mixture against the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to make a rough paste. Add the wine, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil until reduced by about half, about 2 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. 
  5. The braise: Pour the seasoned liquid over the fennel, cover tightly with foil, and slide onto the middle rack of the oven. Braise until the fennel has collapsed and a small knife penetrates the core of the wedges with no resistance, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
  6. Serving: If you reserved the feathery tops, chop them to give you about 2 tablespoons, and sprinkle them over the top of the braise. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Adapted from All About Braising by Molly Stevens