Here is a English vegetable side dish recipe given to me about 20 years ago by a friend from London after he served it at a dinner party. I have adapted it by adding carrots and pearl onions and by adjusting the proportions of the ingredients. I have found this to be perfect holiday fare. I don't usually like fennel but it is wonderful prepared this way. Sweet & sour, rich and decadent, this is truly worth preparing for your Thanksgiving or Christmas guests!
4 heads of fennel, quartered and washed
I jar or can of chestnuts
4 carrots, peeled, quartered and cut into 2 inch lengths
1/2 cup peeled pearl onions [frozen/thawed]
1/2 teaspoon dry fennel seed
1 stick butter
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup muscavado sugar*
Cut the fennel lengthwise into quarters or sixths, wash and set aside in a large bowl with drained chestnuts and onions. Parboil carrots, drain and add to the other vegetables.
Spray a 9 x12 pyrex pan with cooking spray.
Pre-heat oven to 400*
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and melt until syrupy and then add the vinegar and the fennel seeds. Let cook for 1 minute, stirring.
Pour the syrup into the bowl with the vegetables and toss to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until everything is soft and nicely glazed.
*A specialty brown sugar sometimes called "raw" sugar, Muscovado sugar is less processed than regular brown sugar. Smoky, spicy and complex, this sugar has a nice fine texture. If it is unavailable you can substitute regular dark brown sugar for the Muscavado.