Pancetta Fennel Gratin

2009 May/Jun


  • 3 T. butter
  • 4 large fennel bulbs, cored and sliced thin, fronds reserved
  • 1-1/4 c. vegetable stock, plus extra
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 T. flour
  • ¼ c. heavy cream, plus extra
  • 4 oz pancetta, thinly sliced


Preheat oven to 350°F. In a sauté pan over medium heat, heat 2 T. butter. Add the fennel and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook the fennel until it is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Lay the fennel in a buttered baking dish. Measure the reserved cooking liquid and add more stock if needed to make 1 cup. Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the remaining butter, add the flour, stir until a paste forms, then whisk in the stock. Cook, stirring often, until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Chop the reserved fennel fronds and stir them into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the fennel and lay the pancetta slices on top. Bake until the pancetta is cooked and the top is golden, about 12 minutes. If it seems too dry as it bakes, drizzle more cream over top. Serves 6 as an appetizer.