A lovely recipe from my friend Bill Hovard! This is such a pure and simple recipe with complex flavors from the fennel and a decadent touch from the grated cheese! A classic Italian side dish!
Scroll to the bottom for the recipe!
Fennel is a flowering plant species in the carrot family. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean but has become widely naturalized in many parts of the world, especially on dry soils near the sea-coast and on riverbanks.
Q&A with My friend Bill Hovard:
When Hudson Valley-based artisan Bill Hovard isn’t harvesting calendula and chamomile for his line of small batch soaps and oils, he can be found in his kitchen, cooking with local produce and listening to Miles Davis. He founded his apothecary, Hudson Made, with the aim of creating unique, high-quality goods, made from sustainably sourced regional ingredients. His renovated farm in the Catskill Mountains serves as inspiration for his work as well as the laboratory where he concocts his acclaimed beard shaves and other magical elixirs. Here, he shares his life philosophies and what has his attention these days.
Describe your childhood.
I was raised in Northern California outside San Francisco in the foothills of Mount Diablo. I was a creative and active kid who enjoyed the natural world and dreamed a lot.
What’s been your inspiration for Hudson Made?
A lifelong interest and passion for natural beauty and handmade objects. Also, my dear friend Donald Carpentier, who was a historian, naturalist, and artisan.
The nature, the seasons, the connection to the past, and the stunning natural landscapes. Also the inspiring community of artisans, farmers, and makers.
What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?
A walk in the woods.
Tell us about your cooking.
Cooking is a passion and I particularly enjoy preparing a meal for others. Food is what connects us and brings us together. The cuisines I am passionate about are Italian and Japanese. Both require the freshest ingredients available and honor the simple essence of each ingredient.
What’s your favorite Hudson Made product?
The Hudson Made Body Oil. It is infused with botanicals raised on my farm and uses some of the highest quality organic base oils available. I am intimately involved in the product, from germinating the seed, cultivating and harvesting the ower, and infusing the oil. I use it daily.
What’s important to you about your workspace?
Honoring the characteristics of the original 19th century agricultural structure I work in, while also bringing in the amenities of the 21st century. Also, open space and natural light.
Do you travel?
One of my true passions is exploring the world and experiencing diverse cultures. It allows me to look at myself and my life from an outside perspective and also appreciate and value the differences in the world. My favorite destinations include Siena, Italy; London, England; Oaxaca, Mexico; Hampi, India; and Mendocino, California.
A writer you love?
The works of Henry David Thoreau, because of his inspiring message to appreciate the natural world and an emphasis on the quest to live a simple life.
What’s the theme song to the life of Bill Hovard?
"I Feel Love" by Donna Summer or the version by Bronski Beat. Really anything with a disco beat!
What’s your secret to happiness?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short.
What will you be doing when you’re 80?
Enjoying the moment and being thankful I still have one.
Tuscan Braised Fennel Recipe:
3 bulbs fennel, scrubbed, cleaned
6 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Fully wash and trim the fennel bulbs.
- Trim off the tops of the fennel and set aside. Leave enough of the base in tact so the fennel retains its form.
- Cut the bulbs lengthwise (top to bottom) into pieces approximately 1” thick.
- In a pan, parboil the fennel in chicken stock until slightly tender. Strain and retain the stock.
- Place the braised fennel into a pan or cast iron dish that is lightly coated with extra virgin olive oil.
- Pour about 1⁄2 cup of the chicken stock over the fennel, salt, pepper, and cover with 1⁄4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Finely chop some of the fennel tops and sprinkle over the dish for added fennel flavor.
- Place in the oven and cook until the top is golden brown, approximately 20–30 minutes.
Made it? Tell us about it–