Braising is one of my favorite ways of cooking. It might sound like a fancy culinary term but it is not complicated to do. It is a cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished covered at a lower temperature while sitting in some amount of liquid. I like to use this method for different vegetables such as onions, fennel and leeks. It brings out the natural flavors of the veggies making them sweet, soft and scrumptious.
Salami and fennel are a marriage made in heaven. This crostino is sweet, tangy and seductive. I use ricotta and herbs to bring together the flavours. If you like Italian flavours, this is one crostino you need to try.
Wine Tip: Chardonnay
Braised Fennel & Salami Crostini
- 1 fennel thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- A few tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 glass of white wine
- 200 grams fresh ricotta
- Zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon chopped dill
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives
- 100 grams Italian salami
- A drizzle of good balsamic vinegar
- Salt & pepper
Set up a pan in high heat and add one tablespoon of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. This prevents the butter from burning. Once melted, add the fennel. Pan fry until you see the fennel beginning to get a golden color. Stir regularly to avoid burning the fennel. This would take around 5 minutes. Add a glass of good white wine and let it evaporate for a few seconds. Reduce heat to medium low and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook covered for around 10 – 15 minutes. Check on it every other minute to make sure it is not drying up. If so, add a bit of water. Once the fennel has become soft and golden, turn off the heat and add a small drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar.
Mix the ricotta in a bowl with lemon zest, salt, pepper, dill and chives. Do not add too much salt since the fennel and salami will have some as well. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a grill pan on medium high heat. Add the bread slices and grill on both sides. Once golden all over, remove from the heat.
Add a tablespoon of ricotta to the toasted bread. Top ricotta with the braised fennel. Just add enough to cover the surface. Roll up a slice of salami and place on top lengthwise. Decorate with a pinch of chopped dill. Drizzle with good olive oil. Serve room temperature.