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Recipe for Mediterranean braised goat leg with fennel and white beans

Luke Pyenson for the Boston Globe

Serves 6

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.

tablespoons olive oil
3bulbs fennel, cut in half (reserve stalks and fronds)
1head garlic, halved horizontally
1leg of goat (5 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1bottle dry white wine
4cups water
1cup oil-cured black olives
½bunch fresh oregano
5Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
2cans (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.

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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.

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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.
Luke Pyenson

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