Pickled Fennel by Nate 01/11/2013

Pickling Music

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Jessie Ware: Devotion

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Tennis: My Better Self
It has become a tradition that with each holiday or birthday or spontaneous present, I am gifted a new cookbook. Some may say it has to do with my affinity for food and photographs. When December rolled around this year, I found myself unwrapping my most utilitarian recipe book yet, one that will forever teach me the science of making pickles and preserves. The Preservation Kitchen is a compilation of ratios, coupled with interesting ideas for the contents of your next Ball Jar. While in the past I’ve dabbled in pickling, I haven’t had very much success, but this time around, I have a good feeling that Michelin recognized Chef Paul Virant may pull me out of my slump.
As my first experiment, I used Fennel, a vegetable that contains fresh herbs in the fronds, which protrude from the most delicious meat at its bulbous roots. Fennel is a common ingredient mainly in Mediterranean cooking; in the past I have sliced, caramelized, sautéed, braised and roasted the bulb, including it in many a pasta dish or topping it with Parmesan for a perfect side. Yet, I had never pickled Fennel and I was quite happy with the outcome. Using champagne vinegar for the base of the brine, as Chef Virant recommends for all of his pickles, the pickles took on a bright acidity. The recipe was simple: vinegar, salt, sugar and water. For more flavor, toast red pepper flakes on a dry pan with coriander and fennel seeds, and add them to the bottom of a jar. Add the sliced Fennel, and pour the hot liquid over to cover. My first use for these pickles was a turkey sandwich I made on Amy’s Sourdough Bread, and topped with Comté cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, arugula and whole grain mustard. My second use will be for a garnish, to compliment a whole roasted white fish with stewed tomatoes.

Pickled Fennel:
3 cups Champagne Vinegar
1.5 cups Water
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp Sugar
4 tsp Kosher Salt
2 tsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
4 Fennel bulbs, trimmed cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
For Brine: Bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil, keep hot.
For Spice Mix: In a dry sauté pan over medium heat, toast the coriander seeds, fennel seeds and red peper flakes.
To Sterilize Jars: Bring a large pot of water to boil and scold jars and lids in the water.
Load the contents: Separate toasted spices into 4 jars, place at bottom, then fill each with Fennel leaving an 1/2 inch space from the rim of the jar. Pour hot brine over each jar and seal the lids, making sure they are extra tight. To ensure preservation, submerge pickle jars in boiling water for 15 minutes.
The next day, in between reading chapters on Rum & Gin for my spirits course, I wipped up a dill pickle brine, and churned these out:


One Response to “Pickled Fennel”

  1. Akiko says:

    It looks delicious. Preserved vegetables are very healthy for your digestion. Traditional Japanese cuisine includes always pickled vegetables. It is a good habit to eat some preserved vegetables with each meal. This morning I bought a jar of “Radish Cabbage Kraut” at the market. The ingredients are: green cabbage, watermelon radish, luobo radish, black radish, onion, kale and sea salt.