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Potato & Fresh Fennel Gratin

6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cleaned but not peeled
2 small bulbs fresh fennel, cleaned and trimmed of discoloration, etc.
2 cloves garlic, minced (or more, to taste)
salt and freshly ground pepper
good olive oil
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 or 3 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, toasted, optional (homemade is best)

 

Thinly slice (about 1/4-inch) all the potatoes and set them aside.  Next, slice the fennel in half down from the top through the base.  Then thinly slice the fennel.  Brush some of the olive oil over the bottom and sides of a deep rectangular baking dish (approx. 9x13 inches) or casserole.  Sprinkle one of the minced garlic cloves over the bottom of the casserole and then sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper.  Cover the entire bottom of the casserole with overlapped slices of potatoes, then place half the sliced fennel evenly over the potatoes.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over this layer and sprinkle lightly with a bit more salt and pepper.  Now arrange another layer of potatoes over the fennel and sprinkle the second clove of minced garlic over them.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle a bit more olive oil over the top.  Repeat this process with the remaining fennel and potatoes. The last layer of potatoes should be arranged nicely, brushed with more olive oil and sprinkled lightly with salt and pepper.

Cover the gratin with foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife goes into the center of the gratin easily and the edges are turning golden.  Take gratin out of the oven and remove foil.  If using, sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the gratin and put it back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes, or until the crumbs have browned nicely. Remove gratin from oven. Let it rest in a warm place about 10 minutes to make cutting and serving easier.  Sprinkle with herbs (parsley and chives).  Serve hot.  Makes 8 to 10 servings.

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