And now we are onto the fourth recipe from this year’s Thronesgiving feast. Last week we spent some time up North with some soup and beer bread pudding. This week we’ll be heading south to Dorne and with a considerably lighter dish to beat the sudden heat, and the heaviness from the last course.
Dorne reflects an interesting blend of Earth cultures, mostly based on Moorish Spain with some Wales and Palestine thrown in. Being a coastal region, not only would it make sense for there to be a wide variety of exotic ingredients shipped in and subsequently grown in Dorne’s various regions – whether mountainous and rocky, or lush and warm.
Just as Spain’s cuisine was heavily influenced by Northern Africa and the rest of the Mediterranean, the books describe Dornish dishes that clearly celebrate diversity and decadence. Lemons, pomegranates, olives, chickpea paste, spices, strong wine, peppers, dates, and stuffed grape leaves are just a fraction of the delectable items served in those luxurious salons.
So for this recipe I took a Mediterranean vegetable – fennel, and braising it in olive oil with orange, garlic, chickpeas, and harissa powder. I served this up a side dish, but with some pita bread, you’ve also got a great appetizer to snack on while watching the show.
Fennel is a rather fun vegetable to test your knife skills on. The anise, faint licorice flavor also pairs well with orange, and absolutely melts with the garlic.
Harissa is a Tunisian spice blend featuring a number of peppers, normally you would find this in paste form. I used Vann’s Spice’s Harissa powder – I found it at World Market if you want to use the same stuff.
Stay tuned for later this week (hopefully) for the next course and first entree of the night — rabbit pie!
Dornish Braised Fennel
Equipment: Oven, stovetop, large oven-safe skillet or large skillet and roasting pan.
- 2-3 large fennel bulbs
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 oz mandarin oranges
- 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons harissa powder
- 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
- 1/2 cup fennel fronds
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Cut stalks off the fennel bulbs. Slice the bulbs in half vertically, remove the outer layer from each half, and slice it and the rest of the bulbs into 1/2-inch wedges.
- Heal the olive oil in the skillet for about 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the fennel with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Turn the fennel intermittently with tongs until both sides are softened and brown. Stir in the orange, garlic, harissa, thyme, and another teaspoon of salt.
- Put the oven safe skillet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. If not using an oven safe skillet, transfer the mix to the roasting pan before baking. Stir in the chickpeas and fronds, and bake another 15 minutes.
- Remove skillet or pan from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving.