There are some days it’s just too hot to turn on the oven. Lucky for us, it’s not that warm yet in Los Angeles, but this weekend will supposedly be a scorcher. We are heading into our June gloom days–drab and overcast in the mornings before the sun breaks through in the afternoon. This actually started with a bit of May gray if anyone remembers those weeks of dreary mornings last month. Regardless, summer is on its way, so we don’t need to rush it, especially if we want to continue using the oven for special meals. Oh yes, you can still use your oven in the summer if you choose the right time. Oven braising is one of the best ways to end up with something that’s going to satisfy. It utilizes moisture and heat to slowly cook your food to its most tender, delicate degree. You can cook the most succulent beef, lamb, turkey and even chicken with the simplest braising techniques. When it’s just a tad too warm to even think about slow cooking a lamb shank, try tossing in a bunch of fresh, crisp vegetables.
We both adore fennel to death, and it’s fun to find new ways to eat it. Here is a simple recipe with few ingredients but lots of flavor–lemon flavor, that is. Bright lemon slices enhance the anise tones of the fresh fennel bulbs, and it all works perfectly with each bite. The entire dish was braised in a heavy, even-heating Dutch oven provided by our friends at Bertolli. They delivered a kit including the tools necessary for a good ‘ol braised meal in celebration of the finale of their “Into the Heart of Italy Series”! The final episode concludes with a meal of beautifully braised beef. Now Bertolli wants to send you one as well, so perhaps you can try your own favorite braising recipe. This kit is valued at $125 and will include:
• A beautiful 5 1/2 quart cast iron enameled Dutch oven perfect for slow cooking
• Two Crate & Barrel bistro serving bowls and a Crate & Barrel bamboo cutting board and utensil set
• Two coupons for Bertolli Frozen Meals for a day when you’d like to have a meal ready in 10 minutes
• A Bertolli wine pairing guide should you need help deciding just which varietal to serve with your meal
This contest is only open to our U.S. readers, so apologies to our international folks. There are many ways to win. Choose one or do them all. For each entry mode, please leave an additional comment stating what you’ve done! Take your pick:
*Watch the final installment of the “Into the Heart of Italy” series below and let us know what Marisa finds out the trio is looking for according to Dario Cecchini. (By the way, Dario looks like the most fun man in all of Italy!)
*Tweet about this giveaway referencing @TheDuoDishes and @Bertolli
*Follow both @TheDuoDishes and @Bertolli on Twitter
*Like both The Duo Dishes and Bertolli on Facebook
Lemon Braised Fennel – Serves 4
2 large fennel bulbs, fronds removed and cut into 1/2″ slices
1 medium red onion, sliced
1 large lemon, seeds removed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 – 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth*
1. Mix the fennel, onions, lemon slices and garlic together in the pot over medium high heat and drizzle with a nice helping of olive oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until a few pieces of fennel begin to brown. Pour the 1 cup of broth over the vegetables and bring to a low boil.
2. Once boiling, turn off the heat and carefully slide the pot into an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until the liquid reduces considerably and fennel has softened. Add more broth if necessary.
3. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt before serving.
*For this recipe, the vegetable broth is Trader Joe’s organic vegetable broth. It has a very deep orange hue, and the broth itself is rather thick. The orange color of the fennel is attributed to the broth itself. After using this broth a second time with a batch of jasmine rice, it has been proven that the orange broth will definitely ‘dye’ your food. Although Trader Joe’s is one of the grocery stores we frequent most, we would not recommend their vegetable broth unless you’re making a soup that can benefit from a little extra color!
Click HERE for the printable recipe.