I was preparing large bulbs of fennel this week, trimming the bottoms and sides off so after roasting they wouldn’t roll around our plates.
This makes it easier to place fillets of baked bream on them before adding Bloody Mary sauce and black olive tapenade.
The fennel were quite large which meant there were a lot of trimmings and as I don’t like wastage I saved the trimmings for something I hadn’t quite decided upon.
Our lunchtime service was busy as usual and after cleaning down I felt a little peckish. A quick scout of the fridges and out came the cheese box. A slice of bread and a dollop of chutney to refuel ready to continue preparation for the evening and it’s at that moment I know what to do with the fennel. The chutney had given me the idea of onion marmalade but adding the fennel finely sliced. After a few hours the marmalade was cooked and ready to sample.
The aniseed flavour comes through the sweet onions and it surely would be lovely with cold meats and cheese, but it works beautifully with cured salmon.
The fantastic thing about this recipe is that once made the marmalade has a long shelf life.
Fennel and onion marmalade
4 onions finely sliced
1 bulb fennel finely sliced
100ml white wine vinegar
150ml white wine
1 bay leaf
Teaspoon white peppercorns
Teaspoon fennel seed
2 tablespoons honey
30g butter for cooking
1. Melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat and add the fennel and onions.
2. Cook until transparent without any colour (about eight minutes).
3. Add the peppercorns, bay and fennel seeds.
4. Add the vinegar and white wine and slowly reduce by half.
5. Add the sugar and honey and cook slowly for about 30 minutes.
6. The liquid should almost all have gone and the marmalade should be golden and shiny.
7. Taste and add either a little more sugar or vinegar to balance the flavour.
8. Allow to cool and store in sterilised preserving jars.
Lawrence Murphy’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth (fatolives.co.uk). Call 01243 377914.