Fennel and goat work wonderfully together in this flavorful dish made with goat leg. The goats on the dairy farm in Italy where I worked played in the wild fennel-filled fields of the Alte Langhe in Piedmont, and, I suspect, tasted of it. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the braising liquid.
|3½||tablespoons olive oil|
|3||bulbs fennel, cut in half (reserve stalks and fronds)|
|1||head garlic, halved horizontally|
|1||leg of goat (5 pounds)|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1||bottle dry white wine|
|1||cup oil-cured black olives|
|½||bunch fresh oregano|
|5||Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced|
|2||cans (15 ounces each) white beans, drained|
|Grated rind of 1 lemon (for garnish)|
1. Set the oven at 325 degrees. Have on hand a flameproof casserole large enough to fit the meat and vegetables and deep enough for the liquid to almost cover the meat.
2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the fennel and garlic, cut sides down. Brown for 5 minutes and transfer to the casserole.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet. Sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Set in the pan and cook for 5 minutes without disturbing. Turn and cook the other side for 5 minutes. Transfer to the casserole.
4. Pour the wine and water over the meat (the liquids should cover it by three-quarters). Add the olives, oregano, and reserved fennel stalks. Bring the liquids to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven.
5. Cook the goat 3½ hours, turning once, or until the meat slips off when picked up with a fork.
6. Near the end of cooking, arrange the tomato slices on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 30 minutes. Add the white beans to the goat and re-cover the pan. Continue cooking for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the meat from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped fennel fronds, lemon rind, and roasted tomatoes. Pull the meat from the bone with tongs and serve with cooking juices, beans, and olives.