recipe: fennel with white wine (as taught to me by Mario Batali)

how do you cook fennelA lot of people commented on these photos last night on my Instagram and Facebook and so I thought it would be fun to share the recipe here.

Believe it or not, it was taught to me by none other than Mario Batali.

It was the spring of 1998 and I was living in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was broke but a friend with an expense account had suggested that we check out a new restaurant on West 4th St. called Babbo. It was a time before Ruth Reichl published her New York Times review of the place, “A Radical Departure with Sure Footing,” and it was still easy to get a table there.

fennel recipeAfter dinner, I saw Mario at the bar and went up to him and told him how much I loved the fennel.

“How did you make it?” I asked.

“It’s easy,” he said.

Jimi Hendrix was playing on the restaurant sound system and he was drinking a beer.

“Just sautée some garlic in olive oil and then add the fennel and season with salt and pepper. After you’ve browned the fennel, deglaze with white wine. That’s it,” he said as “The Wind Cried Mary” caressed our ears.

Every time I make the dish, I remember that time before the time before the Italian wine and food renaissance when I was living, broke, in Brooklyn.

Buona domenica a tutti! Happy Sunday everyone…

5 thoughts on “recipe: fennel with white wine (as taught to me by Mario Batali)

  1. This one’s a keeper. It’s like the Village Voice recipe I saved years ago by “Vladimir Estragon” — remember him? — for Pasta with Broccoli di Rape. Sauté some garlic and anchovies, add your chopped broccoli rabe, combine with cooked pasta, sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Voilá. Simple and eternal.

  2. I made this for lunch yesterday. It was great! Thanks. Too bad I had to teach that evening, so I would not be able to drink any of the delicious wine I used to deglaze — a 2013 Fiano, just released this winter by Chris Cherry at Villa Creek. Of course, it was just as good after class, when I got home at 10:30.

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