February 17, 2013

Insert Clever Title Here

I know, I know...the title is a little disappointing...but you can't win 'em all.

When it comes to ground meat, I think you're a little limited in what you can do...burgers...pasta with meat sauce...meatballs...but we didn't want to do any of that.  So we turned to the interwebs to find an alternative, and we came across a recipe for fennel stuffed with sausage and parmesan.  It sounded the like the perfect way to use the pork sausage we'd picked up in the share, and it came together quite easily.

We started with a couple fennel bulbs, chopped off the stalks (though we reserved the fronds), and threw them in a pot to steam and soften.
While those were steaming, we got to work on the sausage.  We browned it with a little garlic, shallot, red pepper flake, and some oregano.  Or maybe there was a lot of oregano...Justin unscrewed the top of the spice jar, not realizing there wasn't a shaker top, and dumped about half the jar in the pan.  We were able to scoop out a good portion of it without sacrificing any sausage.  Luckily the other flavors helped to subdue the oregano.
Once the sausage was browned and cooked through, we started to add the parmesan and pecorino cheeses.  We also threw in some panko.  As everything cooked in the pan, the sausage developed a really crispy texture, as if it had been fried.

Once the fennel was soft, we cut them in half and cut out the core, so we could fill in the layers with the sausage and cheese mixture.  We made sure to get between all the layers of the fennel.  These went into a baking dish with a bit of stock, covered the dish with foil, and slid it into the oven for about 15 minutes.
Then we uncovered them, and let them cook a bit longer.  We finished them off with some of the fennel fronds and a little more cheese.  They were delicious, and well balanced.  The salty, savory sausage and fresh fennel fronds really rounded out the dish.

We know what you're thinking, these plates looks a little sparse.  Well, that's because we had a super rich, sweet, and creamy, dessert that we made for the evening.  We had some egg yolks left over from an omelette, so we decided to make some creme brulee.  Creme brulee may sound intimidating but it's really easy.  First scrape out a vanilla bean add it to a boiling sauce pan of cream.  Then just mix together eggs and sugar and slowly temper in the mixture vanilla and cream.
Once the cream, eggs and sugar were combined, we poured them into little ramekins, and the ramekins went into a hot water bath to cook.  This helps prevent them from drying out.
Once they were cooked, we let them set in the fridge overnight.  To get the nice, crunchy top, we added a bit of sugar to the top.  I was a little skeptical about Justin with a blowtorch so we just finished them off in the broiler.
We were a little distracted eating our sausage stuffed fennel, and the sugar got a tad bit burned, but they were tasty nonetheless.

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