Substitute for fennel bulb?

I’ve been given a nice-sounding recipe for pork tenderloin braised in white wine and elderflower liqueur with thyme, red onion, and fennel bulb. But I’m not a huge fan of that last item — what would the chefs among you recommend as a replacement? With or without altering other ingredients (e.g. a different herb, if something else would harmonize better).

Note that due to allergies and/or dislikes, mushrooms and squash are both out.

8 Responses to “Substitute for fennel bulb?”

  1. Wendy Shaffer

    Some substitutions that seem logical to me would be: diced celery, diced celery and carrot, sliced leeks, or even just additional onion. These are all basic aromatics that are a common component in braises and stews – they are unlikely to clash with anything in that dish.

    • swantower

      With carrots, I’m wondering if they’d cook fast enough — you’re supposed to braise the vegetables for about 15 minutes, and I’m not sure if those would still be too crunchy after that time.

      • CEP

        Try shredding the carrot (as finely as the not-so-beloved carrot-and-raisin salad found in cafeterias, using the smallest holes on a box grater). Put the juices in too. That should cook to al dente in about 15 minutes.

        And if you want something still somewhat crunchy, try the celery mentioned above or even a small head (chopped) of gai lan or baby bok choy; either way, add a pinch or so of sugar and perhaps a pinch of red pepper flakes or 1/4tsp coarsely ground black pepper.

        • swantower

          That makes sense. And the bok choy is a good idea; my thoughts did go immediately to celery or carrot, but I like being able to branch out a bit more than that.

  2. Adrian

    With carrots, you could cut them small and give them a head start before putting in the other food.
    You could use venues celery root. Cooking time on that varies a lot, depending on age and storage conditions…sometimes fifteen minutes will cook it, sometimes not.

    Or you could use more onions, plus some leeks, plus caraway seeds. If you like caraway.

    • swantower

      Mmm, celery root is another good idea! I haven’t used it much, so this might be a chance to experiment.

      • CEP

        Celery root (celeriac), however, does not play nice (or at least not predictable) with alcohol like in the liqueur; it tends to get grainy or lumpy, even when left sliced or in large chunks. It’s also at its best when cooked either rapidly at high heat, dry (as in roasting), or low, slow, and wet; I’m not sure that fits with the rest of the recipe…

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