The weather was getting warmer, but the days for body-warming stews were not yet over. So I wanted a light, springlike beef stew. Why not, I thought, use fennel bulb as the vegetable ingredient? And there was a little ouzo left in a bottle to add to the aniseed flavours. Moreover, fennel bulbs were plentiful and cheap in the market.
BEEF AND FENNEL STEW
You will need:
Pepper and salt
Ouzo, Pernod, or other aniseed drink
Beef stock cube
Herb or herbs tied with string (optional)
In a saucepan or casserole, fry a chopped onion in oil until the pieces become transparent. Sprinkle over some plain flour. Stir.
Add chopped stewing beef, 2 star aniseeds, a crumbled beef stock cube, pepper and salt, some ouzo or other aniseed drink (be careful that it doesn’t flare up), lots of chopped fennel, and water to cover.
I first added some prunings of sage, rosemary and thyme tied with string. This adds flavour but is not necessary.
Boil the stew slowly for some 3 hours more or less, depending on the quality of the beef.
Should you have added herbs to the top of the dish, extract and discard them before serving.
The end result is light and delicious, so much so that it would be wise to make enough to serve the following day.