Braised Fennel With Fresh Figs

"Adapted from a Wine Spectator recipe, featured as part of a Thanksgiving menu. Really quite simple to do and presents beautifully -- an elegant starter which can be prepared entirely in advance.."
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  • Chop the onion and two of the figs coarsely and put them in a saucepan large enough to hold all the fennel. Add the chicken stock and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Meanwhile, cut the dark green ends away from the fennel and reserve for other use or discard. Cut the rest lengthwise into quarters and add them to the pan.
  • Cover the pan tightly and let the fennel cook at a very low simmer until it is tender, about 30 minutes. (Note: It is not necessary to cover the fennel with liquid; it will cook evenly in the tightly covered pan.)
  • Remove the fennel from the pan juices.
  • Puree the pan juices in a food processor or blender, adding lemon juice to taste. Taste for seasoning.
  • To serve, cut the tips from the remaining figs and cut them lengthwise into thin slices, leaving them attached at the base. They will fall open into a fan shape. Place one at the edge of each of eight small salad plates.
  • Overlap two fennel quarters at the center and spoon some of the puree over the fennel.
  • Garnish the rest of the plate with a handful of greens and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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