Crispy Pan-Roasted Fennel Potatoes

by eat in my kitchen

Fennel Potatoes

Fennel seeds are one my favourite spices, preferably the ones I buy from a lovely lady at the market in Marsaxlokk in Malta. Her harvest grows under the hot Mediterranean sun, the plants dig their roots into the limestone soil and clay, in the rich Garrigue. This is the name of a unique and protected ecoregion, scrubland that you find close to the island’s coast line, it’s rocky and dry and looks a bit like a moon landscape. The ground seems poor but it’s actually quite rich in minerals washed out from the rocks, they nurture wild thyme and fennel and add a strong aroma to the vegetation. A single fennel seed is enough to smell and taste the difference compared to the products you can buy in most shops.

My Maltese fennel seeds and the plant’s bulb (not from Malta but organic) are the fragrant secrets of my rustic pan filled with golden crisp potatoes. The seeds’ and vegetable’s sweetness fits perfectly to the yellow roots, together they create an aromatic variation on a comfy kitchen classic. I roasted my potato slices a few hours after they cooked, you have to give them some time to dry out a little if you’re after a crisp result. They should always spread evenly in the (heavy) pan and not on top of each other while they are cooking. You might have to roast them in batches but the effort is worth it. I cut the fennel bulb in very thin slices, like a carpaccio, and sautéed them for only 2 minutes in fennel seed infused olive oil. They were just al dente when I mixed them in the pan with the roasted potatoes, crunchy fennel seeds, sea salt and coarsely crushed pepper. We picked up our forks and ate straight out of the skillet, a rather rustic style of eating that fit perfectly to the dish.

Fennel Potatoes

 

Fennel Potatoes

Crispy Pan-Roasted Fennel Potatoes

For 2-3 people you need

waxy potatoes, peeled, boiled and rinsed, 700g / 1 1/2 pounds
small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced, the green chopped, for the topping, 1
quality fennel seeds (preferably organic), 1 1/2 tablespoons
olive oil
sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar

Let the potatoes cool and dry on a wire rack for at least 1 hour or a day and cut them into thick slices. In a large heavy pan, heat a generous splash of olive oil and fry the potatoes on medium-high for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Cook them in batches and turn them one by one with a fork to keep their shape. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a splash of olive oil in another pan and cook the fennel seeds on medium heat for 1 minute (they shouldn’t get dark). Pull the pan off the heat, take just the seeds out with a tablespoon and set them aside. Put the pan back on and add the fennel slices, sauté them on medium for about 1 minute on each side without getting dark, they should be al dente. Gently mix the roasted potatoes, fennel seeds and slices in the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately.

Fennel Potatoes

 

Fennel Potatoes

 

Fennel Potatoes