Fennel & Onion Gratin With Parmesan Bechamel
Ok home cooks…tell me this: Do you ever feel guilty making a meal or dish that you know your family isn’t a fan of? Because you feel that, as the official home cook, you deserve to make some of your own favorites? Even if no one else loves them as much as you. Or you just get enjoyment out of making certain dishes? Well…that’s how I feel about this Fennel & Onion Gratin.
I love fennel. I love a warm, comforting dishes on a cold weekend nights. And I certainly love a fennel gratin that has a creamy, cheesy béchamel sauce. But Dario? Well, Dario isn’t a huge fan of fennel – cooked or raw. And my sweet, sweet husband has a very mild phobia of white creamy sauces. So put both in one dish? I was sure he wouldn’t go near it with a 10 foot pole.
I felt kinda guilty – really, I did. But I wanted to make it. Simple as that. And if I was stuck eating the entire pan of it, so be it! But when I served it? The man ate half the pan in about 10 minutes! So much for not liking fennel and creamy sauces. I think I got about 1 serving of it, before he finished it all off!
This is quite the decadent side dish! But so good – warm, creamy, cheesy…everything you’d want on a snowy February evening! And I think the fact that an anti-fennel, anti-creamy dish husband loved it, speaks for itself! Enjoy!
Fennel & Onion Gratin With Parmesan Bechamel:
- 3 fennel bulbs, core removed and cut into 6-8 wedges each
- 1/2 large onion, cut into 1/2″ slices
- 1/2 stick salted butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup 1/2 & 1/2
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 + 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese divided
- 1 sleeve buttery crackers (like Ritz) crushed into crumbs
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Spray a large baking pan or deep tart dish with non stick cooking spray or olive oil. Layer in the fennel and onion – alternating between the two.
- In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When butter is completely melted add in the flour stirring to combine. The roux (flour and butter mixture) should be thick like a paste. Cook stirring for 2-3 minutes or until roux has started to turn slightly golden brown.
- Using a whisk, stir in the milk, half and half, salt and pepper. Keep whisking until sauce begins to thicken. When mixture is thicken to the consistency of a cheese sauce, add in the nutmeg and 1 cup of parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust for seasonings.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the layered fennel and onion. The sauce should reach about 2/3 ways up the sides of the fennel and onions.
- Mix together the remaining grated parmesan cheese and cracker crumbs. Cover the entire gratin with the cracker and cheese mixture so that the entire surface has the topping.
- Drizzle the top with a little olive oil and bake for 30 minutes covered with foil. Remove foil after the 30 minutes and continue cooking for another 10-15minutes or until fennel and onions are knife tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm!