Braising is a cooking method that includes both dry and wet heat. First, the food is cooked over high heat without liquid, then liquid is added and the food is steamed. Both vegetables and meats can be braised. Ones with low moisture content work best.
In my recipe, the fennel and leek look alike after they're cooked, so you don't know what flavor is coming till it's there. The parsnips add just the right sweetness and texture. But, you don't have to use all of these veggies. If you don't like fennel, just leave it out.
2 T Butter - separated
1/2 T EVOO - separated
4 large Garlic Cloves - sliced
1 cup Leeks, white parts (bottom) only - sliced
2 Parsnips - peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 head Fennel - cut into bite size pieces
1 cup Leeks, green parts only (top) - cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
Crispin's Lansdowne Cider*
fresh Sage (about 6 leaves) - chopped
fresh ground Black Pepper
Fennel Fronds - chopped
1 spoonful of Sugar - optional
I cooked the veggies with one pan, but in two steps. I'm sure you could cook all the veggies at the same time if you use a larger pan and/or less veggies. Just be sure that each piece can touch the bottom of the pan. You want a little sear.
Start by heating half the butter and oil in a sauce pan on high to med high. Add the garlic and white parts of the leeks. Stir till the leeks are cooked, soft.
Slide the leeks over and add the parsnips. You may need to turn the heat down a bit at this time. DO NOT stir or shake the parsnips for three to four minutes after you put them in the pan. They need to stay in contact with the pan to form a nice sear. Then, stir and remove from pan. (Put on a plate and set aside.)
Heat the rest of the butter and EVOO. Add the fennel and leave alone for a few minutes. Once again, you want to sear the veggies. Then, remove the fennel and repeat with the greens of the leeks. Once this is done, stir the all the veggies back together in the pot.
Now, cover the veggies half way with Crispin. Stir in the sage, black pepper, and fronds. Put a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to med-low. Cook till fork tender. Don't over cook the veggies, you don't want much. A few minutes should do.
Once the veggies are done to your liking, remove the lid and turn the heat back up. Stirring constantly, add the sugar and cook till a syrup is formed. If you don't want to add the sugar, cook till the liquid is gone. Just another minute or two.
Sprinkle chopped fennel fronds over the finished dish. I served these braised veggies with baked salmon. The flavors went wonderfully together.
*You can substitute apple juice, veg broth, another cider, or even water for the Crispin.
This is a gluten free technique.