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Florentine Fennel (Finnocchio alla Fiorentina)

ingredients

serves 4
900 g (2 lb) fennel
250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup water
Salt and pepper
50 g (2 oz) 1/4 cup unsalted (sweet) butter
25 g (1 oz) 2 tbsp flour
150 ml (5 fl oz) 2/3 cup milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) grated Caciovallo or Parmesan cheese

method

1. Trim the fennel and reserve the feathery leaves for garnishing.

2. Cut the fennel into wedges and put in a saucepan.

3. Pour over the water and bring to the boil, adding 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt.

4. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.

5. Transfer the fennel to a warm ovenproof dish and keep warm. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sprinkle over the flour.

6. Cook for a few second and gradually stir in the milk. Heat, stirring, until thick and smooth.

7. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the fennel.

8. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese and place under a hot grill until lightly browned. Garnish with the fennel fronds.

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