- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for buttering the dish
- 4 small to medium fennel bulbs, trimmed
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 medium onions, thinly sliced
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Put the fennel bulbs in a large saucepan of water and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the water to a simmer over moderate heat and cook the fennel for 1 minute. Drain the fennel and let cool completely; pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fennel lengthwise through the core into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread one-third of the onions in the baking dish and arrange half of the fennel slices on top. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the Pecorino. Top with half of the onions, the remaining fennel and then the remaining onions. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of Pecorino and the breadcrumbs on top and dot with the butter. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until the fennel is tender.
- Preheat the broiler. Uncover the fennel and broil for 2 minutes, rotating the dish, until evenly browned. Let the fennel stand for 5 minutes before serving.
The richness of the cheese here, combined with the mildly sweet fennel, finds echoes in a round, buttery Chardonnay with little or no oak.