Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This is my favorite holiday of the year. There's nothing like ushering in the Holiday season with a great family dinner. You have all the other holidays to look forward to. This is the day when everyone in the country becomes a foodie. As I write this, NPR is interviewing celebrity chefs about their past Thanksgiving disasters and I feel like I'm home. I'll miss the Macy's Parade this morning (well my time, It'll be at about 3pm) and of course going to cousin Bill's for the afternoon and evening. Our family is very musical, at least that's what Gabriel said after Thanksgiving 2002 when Bill and my Dad took turns playing the grand piano in the living room and everybody else sang along. Gabriel, with a symphony conductor for a grandfather, had never spent an evening like that. Bill does a great job on the music and the food and keeps a Thanksgiving computer log of what he did, how he did it and what to change for next year. I ought to get him in on this blog; he's probably got a lot of good advice.
When your turkey is in the oven, you can start on the side dishes: mashed potatoes with butter and chives and sauteed fennel with Pernod. Gabriel will wive you the lo-down on mashed potatoes but right now, here's the fennel recipe:
SAUTEED FENNEL WITH PERNOD
Again, as with the soup recipe, I have to make something else up. Online you can find many great roasted fennel recipes that mostly call for the oven to be at 400F. This would be great if your oven on Thanksgiving didn't have to simultaneously be at 375F. I looked around for sauteed fennel recipes and found one, from Mario Batali that has garlic, anchovy and Sambuca. He warns that this recipe is very full flavored and so is best as an accompaniment to a full flavored main dish like braised lamb shank. Well, nobody's ever accused turkey of being full flavored, so I'm changing the recipe a bit. Here's my version: I've skipped the strong flavors of garlic and anchovy and exchanged the Sambuca for the less sweet Pernod. The result is mild, rich and beautiful with the bright green fennel fronds as decoration.
3 fennel bulbs cut in half logway and sliced to ¼ inch thick
2 tbsp olive oil
½ cup water
2 tbsp Pernod
salt and pepper to taste
reserved fennel fronds, minced
Place all ingredients except the fennel fronds in a large saute pan. Over high heat, saute until most of the water is evaporated (10 minutes) and the fennel is evenly tender. Place on a serving dish and sprinkle with the fennel fronds. Serve immediately.