vermouth and pastis braised fennel – serves 4

4 fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved vertically
50g butter
4 tbsp dry vermouth
1 tbsp pastis
50g grana padano, grated

Preheat the oven to 170C

Melt the butter in a casserole dish or oven pan until it is foaming but not brown. Place the fennel into the butter round side down for a couple of minutes to caramelise a little. Repeat with the cut side down. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the vermouth and pastis. Cover the fennel with a cartouche of parchment paper, and cover the dish with a lid or foil. Place into the oven to cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and turn over the fennel, spooning the sauce over the fennel. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until very tender when poked with a small, sharp knife.

Slice the fennel into 4 or 5 lengthwise and serve with a sprinkling of grana padano over the top.