Crispy Cream-Braised Potatoes and Fennel Recipe on Food52 (2024)


by: EmilyC



9 Ratings

  • Serves 4

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Author Notes

I have a hard time deciding which I like more -- creamy potatoes (say, mashed or scalloped) or crispy, oven-roasted ones. So I set out to combine the best of both worlds. I braise the potatoes and fennel in half-and-half until they’re soft, tender, and well-seasoned, then pop them under the broiler with a showering of fresh herbs, cheese and orange zest until they get crispy and caramelized around the edges. It’s a nice dish for holiday entertaining because most of the work is done stove top, which is a blessing when you have one oven and a gazillion things to cook in it. The braised vegetables can be prepared in advance and broiled when you’re ready. It’s a simple dish that’s definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Served alongside roast chicken or turkey, it’s pretty hard to beat. - EmilyC —EmilyC

Test Kitchen Notes

EmilyC has created the perfect lovechild of creamy and crispy potato sides. You first braise potatoes and fennel in cream, then perk them up with olive oil, chopped herbs, orange zest and pecorino before broiling them for a spell. It's no more difficult than your average holiday potatoes and will -- quite frankly -- blow your guests' minds. Oh, and save that cream! You can drizzle it over roast chicken or cooked greens or fold it into mashed potatoes another day. - A&M —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved
  • Your Best Root Vegetable Side Contest Winner

What You'll Need

  • 3 yukon gold potatoes (about 1.5 pounds) – peeled and cut into irregular 1.5" to 2" chunks
  • 2 fennel bulbs (about 1.5 pounds) – trimmed (with tough or bruised outer layers removed), then cut lengthwise into wedges about 1.5” wide (leaving core intact)
  • About 2 to 3 cups of half-and-half or cream, or enough to cover the vegetables
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 or 4 large springs of thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 1 large leafy sprig of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • heaping ¼ cup finely grated pecorino romano (or parmesan reggiano)
  • zest from 1 small orange, finely grated
  • olive oil
  1. In a 3 to 4 quart pan, combine potatoes, fennel wedges, bay leaf, and fennel seed. Add enough half-and-half to fully cover the potatoes and fennel. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring the half-and-half to a simmer, then lower heat to just maintain the simmer. Cook until the potatoes and fennel are soft and tender, about 20 minutes. Take off the heat. The potatoes and fennel should be fully cooked at this point.
  2. While potatoes and fennel are braising, preheat broiler to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine rosemary, thyme, pecorino, and orange zest.
  3. Remove potatoes and fennel wedges from the half-and-half with a spider or slotted spoon, and transfer them to a gratin or casserole dish. Some of the half-and-half will cling to the vegetables, which is a good thing. Make sure to generously coat the bottom with olive oil to prevent sticking. Taste the potatoes and fennel for seasoning – if you need more salt or pepper, add them now. Toss with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon), then the herb-cheese-orange zest mixture. Arrange the potatoes and fennel wedges in a single layer to promote even browning.
  4. Place the casserole dish under the broiler (about 6 inches away from the source of heat). Broil for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the potatoes and fennel are caramelized and crispy around the edges. (I typically brown the vegetables more than the ones in the picture above...just leave them under the broiler until they've reached your desired crispness!)


  • American
  • Fennel
  • Potato
  • Thyme
  • Make Ahead
  • Braise
  • Christmas
  • Winter
  • Side
Contest Entries
  • Your Best Root Vegetable Side

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Trudi Greissle Davidoff

  • MeChelle Boyle Richling

  • NWB

  • AntoniaJames

  • Kwelicakes

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

Popular on Food52

108 Reviews

mbobden December 2, 2021

I posted in question too. Anyone who has done this over in two steps over two days please advise your approach.
When doing in advance should I keep potatoes/fennel in refrigerator in half half after simmered or remove from liquid before refrigerating for next day broiling?

EmilyC December 2, 2021

Hi! I haven't done this over two days before, but I'd recommend leaving the potatoes and fennel in the half and half, then broiling the next day. Please report back if you try it this way! : )

NXL November 16, 2020

Wow! So easy to make and SUCH flavor. I didn't have fennel bulbs, so I substituted some thick fennel stems from our herb garden to at least get some fennel flavor. The combination of fennel and orange is fantastic. Saved the leftover cream in the freezer and am anticipating its use...

Sonel November 8, 2020

I couldn’t wait to finish my dinner to leave a review. I couldn’t love this any more if I tried. The hint of orange and rosemary in every bite was sublime. I used a ladle instead of slotted spoon to put in pan to broil because well, cream is soooo good especially after it’s been boiling with yummyness.
We had it tonight with pork chops on the bbq and we were moaning in delight. It’s my favorite side dish. A keeper when I want to impress. The flavors don’t lie. The flavors are complicated enough to taste so fancy but it’s such a simple recipe.
Long story short...HEAVEN ON EARTH!

JayKayTee April 26, 2020

I needed to reuse the cream sauce before it timed out. I've reused the sauce about 3 times. No fennel this time, added winter savory and thyme instead of rosemary. I use half grated Gruyere half grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Added sliced garlic and mined shallot to the potatoes as they cooked. Absolutely fantastic base recipe and easily altered to what you have on hand or to your taste. I've used Yukon and Red, both work well. I've also left more sauce in the potatoes for a more gratin-like dish. Thank you for this fantastic recipe. Do not wait for the holidays - great at any time.

astErik January 28, 2017

I've made this dish probably 5 times now and I just wanted to drop in and comment to say how much i absolutely love this recipe. It is seriously one of my favorite dishes on earth and always blows people away when I serve it.

This time I took the leftover braising cream (oh man that fennel flavor!) and made a sauce out of it: I put in drippings from my roasted chicken (thomas keller technique, the best), dijon mustard, couple springs of thyme and lemon zest. It was amazing, complemented the chicken perfectly.

astErik December 29, 2021

Here we are, five years later and I've been making this dish for close to ten years now. I just wanted to give a little more praise to the creator of this recipe. It is easily one of the finest dishes I've EVER had.

allekas November 25, 2016

I made this for Thanksgiving this year. I proved EmilyC's theory that it can be made ahead - braised the night before, cooled and refrigerated, then brought it out 90 minutes prior, added herb-cheese and mixed right before broiling. Broiling took a few more minutes to get it heated through but it was all worth it. My 13yo son for whom "meh" is the highest rating he will give anything took me aside after and asked if we could make it again soon. A word about the cream - 3c. was not enough to cover for me so I topped it off with 2% milk which was all I had unless I starved the pie. It worked fine. Thanks for a great recipe!

EmilyC December 6, 2016

Hi allekas -- So happy to hear that you tried and liked this for Thanksgiving -- and that it earned praise from your son! : ) Thanks for your note!

Sue July 13, 2016

I just made this ... OMG!! It is so good. We loved it and ate every bite. I am dairy free so I used coconut creamer in place of half n half. It turned out delicious. Thank you for a new family staple!

EmilyC December 6, 2016

Good to know about subbing coconut cream for the dairy!

Jarntip December 23, 2015

I'm going to make this for Christmas Eve- can I braise the night prior and then broil then next day?

EmilyC December 23, 2015

Yes, that should work just fine! Hope you like it!

EmilyC December 23, 2015

ps -- I'd get the pan out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to broil it, to bring the potatoes and fennel to room temperature.

Trudi G. October 24, 2015

This recipe was my first experience cooking with fennel. I subbed fat-free half and half and had to use dry herbs and it was yum. I am certainly making this again with the fresh herbs--it should be way much better, like AWESOME. The topping, I think, would be excellent on tilapia or swordfish.

MeChelle B. November 3, 2014

I made this and it is delish! I used fresh dug Sunchokes instead of potatoes and fresh picked fennel from my garden.

Mateo December 15, 2013

My couldn't get enough of this. The only change I made was using purple unpeeled potatoes and used fenugreek seeds instead of fennel. I served the leftover cream on the side.

EmilyC December 17, 2013

Glad to hear this was well-received!

Dillon December 22, 2012

Made this last night, and it was great, I actually doubled the recipe. Everyone including my 4 boys (ranging 4 years to 9 months) loved it, even the vegetable hating dad loved it (resulting in no leftovers). This was definitely the choice to introduce my children to fennel. It was so easy to make, especially with chasing kids, that it's going to be a regular addition.

EmilyC December 23, 2012

So happy to hear that you and your family enjoyed the dish! I need to take a page from your book and make this for my kids soon! Thanks for trying it and reporting back.

NWB February 11, 2012

I made this last night and it was wonderful. I love that the fennel infuses the potatoes with flavor. I used whole milk and russet potatoes since they were what I had and we ate every bit of it. Thanks for a great new addition to potato dishes at my house!

EmilyC February 11, 2012

So happy to hear this, NWB!

AntoniaJames January 6, 2012

What a great recipe!! I made this last night, served with a spatchco*cked chicken braise-roasted with onions, fresh herbs and a splash of Burgundy, and roasted Brusslies (Brussels sprouts) on the side. So delicious! I saved the fragrant braising cream to use in dinner rolls. After all, with the potato starch in the cream -- not to mention the bay and fennel flavors-- it simply must be used in bread of some kind! (It would also make an outstanding savory rice pudding.) ;o)

EmilyC January 6, 2012

AJ -- I'm so happy to hear that you liked this! I also like serving it with roast chicken and brussels sprouts, which are mainstay dishes for us in the winter months. (Just a few months ago I tried Amanda's braise-roasted spatchco*cked chicken for the first, so good!) Great idea to use the cream in dinner rolls, too. Thanks so much for reporting back!

Kwelicakes November 29, 2011

I made this for my dinner last night. It was so wonderful, I had it again tonight. I'm not nearly the cook you young women are here, but I imagine if I stick around, I could be. Thank you for this scrumpdiddleleeumptious recipe. It's a keeper!

inpatskitchen November 29, 2011

I love your attitude ( and your dog biscuit comment!)'re probably a much better cook than you let on... and this recipe is wonderful!!

inpatskitchen November 29, 2011

And welcome to FOOD52!!

EmilyC November 29, 2011

Ditto to what inpatskitchen wrote -- welcome, and I'm so happy you liked this dish enough to have it two nights in a row! : )

babs1652 November 22, 2011

This was just EXCELLENT! We had it for dinner tonight to rave reviews. The balance of both flavours and textures was perfect. I will enjoy making this again and again. Our Canadian Thanksgiving has passed but I can definitely see a spot for this on my Christmas table. Thanks so much for posting it!

EmilyC November 22, 2011

I'm so happy to hear this! Thanks so much for reporting back!

ChristineB November 7, 2011

This dish is awesome!! My dinner guests and I LOVED the addition of orange zest to the crispy topping!

EmilyC November 14, 2011

Thanks so much, ChristineB! I'm so happy that you and your guests liked this dish!

ashleyza October 13, 2011

Congrats Emily!

EmilyC October 14, 2011

Thanks ashleyza! And congrats to you, too. I'm looking forward to trying your sweet potato looks so delicious!

CandaceKaru October 13, 2011

This recipe is definitely praise-worthy. Not only does it look good, I tried it last night and it's divine. A well-deserved win!

EmilyC October 13, 2011

So happy you tried and liked it, CandaceKaru! Thanks so much for reporting back!

cookinginvictoria October 13, 2011

Yay -- congratulations on your big win, Emily! I have had my eye on this recipe ever since you posted it. Fennel is my all-time favorite vegetable, and I love the fact that the potatoes and the fennel in this dish are both creamy and crispy. So great too that this can be made ahead and doesn't require major oven time. Saved -- this is on my list of recipes to try soon. I can definitely see this dish on my holiday table this year.

EmilyC October 13, 2011

Thanks so much cookinginvictoria! I love fennel too...and it's so delicious braised in cream. I also like the fact it can be made's a very foolproof / forgiving dish for entertaining! Would love to know if you try it!

Crispy Cream-Braised Potatoes and Fennel Recipe on Food52 (2024)
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