Fennel and anchovy gratin with parmesan

Nassima Rothacker

This can be an unctuous side dish or a starter in its own right. Pairing Parmesan and anchovy is an old trick of mine: the fennel is the perfect foil to the two umamis, which are almost seasoning enough. Panko crumbs are good for the breadcrumb topping.

Ingredients

  • 4 fennel bulbs
  • 12 anchovy fillets
  • 300ml double cream
  • 75g grated parmesan
  • 75g fine breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Trim the bases of the fennel bulbs and cut off the top stalks and fronds. Cut the bulbs lengthways through the base in thick slices 0.5-1cm thick. Wash the fennel slices, then steam or boil them until just cooked through.
  2. Lay half the fennel slices in an ovenproof gratin dish and then season with a pinch of salt.
  3. Cut the anchovies in half lengthways and distribute them over the fennel in the dish, then cover with the remaining fennel slices.
  4. Pour the cream over the fennel and cover the dish with foil. Bake in a hot oven at 200°C/fan oven 180°C/mark 6 for 25-30 minutes, until the cream has thickened and absorbed the flavours.
  5. Mix together the Parmesan and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
  6. Remove the foil and sprinkle the gratin with the mixed cheese and breadcrumbs, then return to the oven to brown for 10 minutes.