When Palma and I were splitting up the recipes for 'our' day my heart leapt when we got to page 504.
Time to digress - we're on page 504. There is a sadness with that . . . only 144 pages of recipes to go.
What was printed on 504 that got me a ‘flutter? Marcella's recipe for fried fennel. I knew that I HAD to cook this one for two simple reasons: having only 'discovered' fennel (he says not unlike Christopher Colombus claiming to have discovered North America) a few years ago we have become veritable fennel fiends. Secondly, we love fried things.
Now about the love of fried things . . . I should clarify that we are not lovers of US State Fair fried things. We have no interest in battered butter fried up and served on a stick. I won't be indulging on this treat from the Texas State Fair: Fried Peanut Butter Cup Macaroon or the Country Fried Pork Chips. I can only imagine the need for defibrillators on site.
The fried things that I am looking for are light and delicate; the crispy coating enhancing the food underneath - not covering it and hiding it. I was sure that Marcella would know her way with fried foods just as she has with all others.
Sure enough, I was right (did you doubt that Marcella would know what she was doing? Did you? If you did I believe you require a 'time out' as penance).
This recipe is simple. The fennel is parboiled. The fennel cools and is then coated with a simple coating of fresh, toasted bread crumbs. The coated fennel is then fried in hot olive oil until lovely crispy and brown. Drained on paper towels all that they require is a flurry of salt and you're ready to serve them up to your soon-to-be appreciative tablemates.