32 medium raw prawns (for a starter, figure on 4 - 5 medium prawns per person or 2 large langoustines. For a main, quite a few more).
For the pangrattato:
120g stale bread crumbs
1 mild long red chilli
2 sprigs of oregano
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
zest of 1 lemon salt and black pepper to taste
For the fennel casserole:
2 bulbs of fennel
2 tsp fennel seeds salt to taste
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
3-4 tbs water
2 tbs tomato sauce
1 tbs Pernod/Ouzo (optional)
300ml fish stock
3 ripe plum tomatoes
1 large handful of Italian parsley (30g at least)
16 Kalamata olives, pitted black pepper to taste extra virgin olive oil some fennel fronds for garnish
Start with the pangrattato. Tear the bread into large pieces and wedge into a food processor.
Pulse until you have coarse crumbs. De-seed and finely dice the chilli. Pick the leaves from the oregano sprigs and roughly chop the leaves.
Pour the olive oil into a heavybottomed pan. Stir in the garlic and diced chilli, and cook very gently for 2 minutes.
You absolutely do not want the garlic and chilli to burn at this stage, just soften and mellow a little.
Fold the mixture through the breadcrumbs. Fry the bread mixture in the pan for 2 minutes, turning over gently to toast until the mixture becomes really crispy, fragrant and golden.
Zest the lemon over the crumbs, scatter over the chopped oregano and season with salt and black pepper. Stir it all together and tip onto a kitchen paper towel to drain excess oil.
Prepare the prawns by peeling the shells away from the bodies and leaving the tails intact. Using a sharp paring knife, cut along the back of each prawn and remove the dark vein with the tip of the knife.
Place the prepared prawns in a clean bowl, cover, and place back in the fridge to chill.
Halve the fennel bulbs and remove the outer layers and core, keeping enough of the root to hold the pieces together as you cut the fennel into slices. Set aside.
In a casserole dish with a lid, heat the butter over low heat until it foams.
Add the fennel seeds and cook for a minute before adding the sliced fennel and seasoning with salt.
Slowly cook the fennel over low heat for 10 to 12 minutes.
Once it starts to caramelise, peel and thinly slice the garlic, then add it with the dried chilli to the pan.
Splash in 3 tablespoons of water, cover and let the garlic and chilli simmer in the buttery fennel mixture for a few minutes to soften.
Add another tablespoon or more of water to ensure that the fennel “steams” in the mixture and loses its hard bite.
Stir through the tomato sauce, Pernod/Ouzo (if using) and fish stock, and let it all bubble for 5 minutes over a high heat.