Fennel is one of those herbs that, once you discover it, you wonder where it's been all your life. Fresh, crisp and clean, the fennel plant rally has SO much to offer. First off, this stuff reduces flatulence. I mean...that alone is good considering how Mexican food and I are BFFs.
I had been wanting to do a braising sauce with yogurt for a while. Well, you know what, you cannot. For one, cooking yogurt over 120 degrees kills all the good bacteria; nobody wants that. Also, the stuff just burns and curdles. So I decided to do a white wine sauce and mix yogurt into it. I used another Top Ten wine from Whole Foods Market because, well, they are cheap and tasty!
You can use any wine, really. You just need one that is dry or off-dry, with grassy notes and some good acidity and minerality to it. It almost needs some salt on the palette.
Clean and quarter the two fennel bulbs. You can see my video on How to Cut Fennel for doing this. By the way, did you know that fennel is also rich in Vitamin C and fiber. And like I said, it also helps you stop farting. Yup, that. So let the dutch oven jokes begin! The organic compound that gives fennel its flavor is called anethole. This compound actually helps reduce flatulence. So you can make a tea with fennel or even the seeds. It's very good for digestive health.
Using the dutch oven (heh), melt 1 tablespoon of butter over a medium-high heat and then add in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Add the quartered fennel, cooking it until it's browned on each side. This should take about 5 minutes total.
Add 1 cup of wine, 3 garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3 sprigs of thyme and a lemon peel. Bring the mix to a boil and then turn off the heat.
Cover the fennel with parchment and place the lid on the dutch oven (tee hee!). Bake it at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes, until fennel is tender.
Remove the fennel and all the other bits from the pot, leaving just the braising sauce. Place the fennel in an oven-safe dish, putting it back in the oven. You want the oven to be off but it should still be warm from before.
In a separate bowl, mix the tablespoon of flour into the 1/2 cup of greek yogurt, until it is smooth. Yogurt can be used to thicken sauces much like heavy cream, but you will need to add some starch to keep it from curdling. This is because yogurt lacks the fat of heavy cream. Also, you must start with yogurt that is at room temperature.
Now temper the yogurt by adding the braising sauce to the yogurt, a couple tablespoons at a time to start. You don't want it to curdle.
Transfer the yogurt mixture to the pot, add in the remaining thyme leaves, and bring it to a very low simmer. Keep in mind, heating yogurt over 120� F destroys the beneficial bacteria.
Add in the fennel, cover and turn off the heat.
Top with a few slices of lemon and sprigs of thyme when serving. Enjoy!