Ingredients

2 fennel bulbs
50g butter
1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
900g potatoes, peeled and sliced 3-4mm thick (I used Agria)
½ cup pitted black olives
200ml vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup cream
½ cup grated cheese (gruyère, aged gouda or Swiss are all good)
In my household, gratin is devoured greedily; the youngest is likely to go for double helpings so I always tend to make a lot. It’s an easy recipe to cut down if you need too, but also a brilliant dish for taking to a potluck. I tend to assume there will be at least one vegetarian, so use a vegetable stock rather then chicken. If I know there are vegans or people on a dairy-free regime present then I omit all the dairy, using oil in place of butter, increasing the vegetable stock to replace the cream and instead of the cheese I will often top the gratin with lightly oiled panko crumbs.

Instructions

1.Heat the oven to 200°C.
2.Remove the outer leaves of the fennel and discard, then chop and reserve the fennel fronds.
3.Cut the fennel into quarters, remove and discard the core and slice thinly.
4.Melt half the butter in a wide saucepan and add the fennel and onion and fry gently for 10 minutes until beginning to soften and colour, then add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute or two.
5.Grease a baking dish with some of the remaining butter and put in a layer of potatoes, season with salt and pepper, add a layer of fennel and fennel fronds and scatter over some olives.
6.Repeat this process again and then finish with a potato layer.
7.Pour over the stock and cream, scatter with the cheese and dot with leftover butter.
8.Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden.
9.Serve scattered with reserved fennel fronds.

Recipes and food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles

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