"This dish has a lovely, comforting Mediterranean feel to it and so should an accompanying wine. The key ingredients to think about are the thick tomato sauce and the chilli. Even only mild heat will push you towards a softer, fruitier red, rather than a big tannic beast. And this style will work nicely with the tomato, too. How about a merlot? The Coonawarra is a great region for this grape, so you could look there, but I fancy Orange as the emerging home of great, modern Aussie merlot, so look for this little beauty called Climbing – just the roundness that you want, while still having good structure, with ripe fruit leading the way." - Dan Coward
- 4 brown onions, sliced
- 200 ml olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 long red chillies, chopped
- 3 jars organic whole peeled tomatoes (preferably Monjardin)
- 6 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed, cut in half from top to bottom
- 1 tin anchovies (preferably Family Reserve)
- extra virgin olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink match Climbing Merlot 2010, Orange, NSW
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
In a large shallow sauté pan (that is suitable to go into an oven), slowly sauté the onions in 150 ml of olive oil, for approximately 15 minutes or until they start to go opaque. Add a pinch of salt and ground pepper. Add the chillies, with or without seeds depending on the heat level you prefer. Continue to sauté for a further 2 minutes over a gentle heat.
Add the tomatoes and reduce until thickened. Add the fennel, cut side up, pushing it just below the level of the onions and tomatoes. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil over the fennel. Season with cracked black pepper.
Place uncovered in the oven for 1 hour. The juices should reduce and caramelise. The fennel is ready when the liquid has evaporated.
Once cooked remove from the oven and place the anchovies on top. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with some crusty sourdough bread.