lamb, Meat, Stew

Lamb and Fennel Stew

Lamb and Fennel Stew Ronit PensoThis quick and easy to prepare stew is the perfect dish for this season, when spring somehow refuses to fully arrive, yet the heavier winter’s stews are not as happily accepted.

Fennel is a wonderful vegetable, with a distinctive anise flavor, which is one of my favorites. Its fresh flavor pairs wonderfully with the relatively heavy lamb cut. To enhance this anise flavor, I’ve added fennel seeds and a bit of Ouzo, the Greek anise flavored liquor.
The addition of preserved lemon and black olives rounds up the flavors and brings to minds the wonderful North African Tajin dishes. The addition of orange blossom honey is very subtle, but adds aroma and a hint of sweetness. The slow braising in the oven brings all these wonderful flavors together, to form a tasty and aromatic dish. I’m sure you’ll love the dish once you’ll try it.

* If you’ve tasted fresh fennel and found the anise flavor too overwhelming for your taste, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the mellow flavor after braising. In this case, you can also omit the fennel seeds and Ouzo.
* If you can’t find fresh fennel, young celery hearts, celeriac or artichoke can be wonderful substitutes.
* I served the dish with plain couscous (see THIS recipe for instructions). Another option is to serve the stew as is, with fresh crusty bread on the side.
* I also added fresh fennel slaw on the side. Check THIS post for the recipe.

Makes: 2-4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 2 ½ hours

1 large fennel head
3 Tbs olive oil
1.6 lbs (750 grams) lamb shoulder, bone in
3 garlic cloves, cut in half
2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed (optional)
2 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup white wine
2 Tbs Ouzo or any anise flavored liquor (optional)
1 cup beef or chicken stock
A few drops of hot sauce
½ large preserved lemon, cut into wedges
1 pickled hot red chili pepper
10-12 salt cured black olives
2 Tbs honey, preferably orange blossom

1. Trim the fennel and cut into thick wedges. Keep some greens for garnish.
Lamb and Fennel Stew Ronit PensoLamb and Fennel Stew Ronit Penso
2. Heat the oil in a large shallow pot, over medium-high heat. Add the meat and fry until golden brown on both sides. Add the garlic and fry lightly.
Lamb and Fennel Stew Ronit PensoLamb and Fennel Stew Ronit Penso
Add the fennel and sprinkle with salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Cook for 2 minutes. Mix the wine, ouzo, stock and hot sauce and pour on top. Add the preserved lemon, chili pepper and olives and pour the honey on top. Bring to the boil, lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Lamb and Fennel Stew Ronit PensoLamb and Fennel Stew Ronit Penso
3. Preheat the oven to 250F (120C). Place the pot in the oven and braise for 1 hour. Uncover and return to the oven for 1 hour,  basting the meat occasionally, until the meat almost falls off the bones and the fennel is soft but still keeps its shape. Garnish with fennel greens and serve.
Lamb and Fennel Stew Ronit PensoLamb and Fennel Stew Ronit Penso Lamb and Fennel Stew Ronit Penso

61 thoughts on “Lamb and Fennel Stew”

  1. Just pinned! Addition of preserved (salted?) lemon, black olive and orange blossom honey?? Soooo gorgeous! I can’t hardly wait to try!
    What a coincidence – I am going to mention Arak/Araq with fennel dish on my next post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Rotwein, I’m glad you liked it.
      The preserved lemon is indeed salted, that’s why I didn’t add too much salt. But it changes from one brand to another, so it’s best to taste after the initial cooking.
      Indeed a coincidence with the fennel/Arak! Looking forward to see your next post. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I tried fennel once as a raw veggie in a salad, but wasn’t thrilled with it. This looks like a better use of it. Will give it a second go! Thanks for the impetus!

    Virtual hugs,


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fully agree — love the combination, indeed, the combination of all the flavours here. Looks like a great dish that definitely has your thumb-marks all over it. One I look forward to trying in the fall. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mimi, I’m glad you liked the recipe despite not being a fennel fan.:)
      The braised fennel is quite different in taste and aroma from the fresh, but the dish also works well with artichokes, celeriac or celery hearts. 🙂


  3. This is a treat Ronit, I always love a good Sunday roast and your flavors sound so appetizing. I love the addition of fennel, I’ve had them in salads before, I love the licorice it imparts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mary! It was indeed delicious and I’m hoping to make it again before fennel season is over. 🙂

      I think you’ll enjoy experimenting with preserved lemons. They can be used in many ways and are also a tasty condiment on their own.


  4. This looks like the perfect dish for this season. I love how you describe early May as “when spring somehow refuses to fully arrive.” I’m really ready for the farmer’s market to have bountiful spring produce, but so far it’s mostly just greens, radishes, and rhubarb.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yesterday, I saw beautiful, fresh fennels in the market. I have had them in salads, and love it, but never had it stewed. I love the fusion of all the ingredients you used for this dish. I was wondering how to use preserved lemons, and here it is. How clever! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Fae, I’m glad you liked the dish.
      Stewed fennel’s flavor is quite different than the fresh. I love both and served this with a fresh fennel salad on the side, to enjoy both flavors and textures.
      Preserved lemons are so great in stews. I’m sure you’ll love the flavor they add.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Boy, this is soooooo delicious! Just tried for Sunday lunch – absolutely beautiful…. Loved this so much Ronit!!
    Some ingredients were not available, so used lamb chops and preserved lemon paste as substitute, and added some more salsa sauce instead of pickled hot chili pepper. Yet still good!

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Ronit!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the update – it’s my pleasure to share and I’m very glad to hear that!
      Glad you didn’t give up despite of not having the exact ingredients and made your own version. I love the idea of salsa and preserved lemon paste and will keep it in mind for next time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I totally agree with you that Fennel goes so well with Lamb. I love the combination. I’ve just posted my Lamb, Liquorice and Orange dish, served with Roasted Fennel. Its a take on a stew that I used to make. The recipe is here:

    Your stew sounds delicious, beautiful pictures, and beautiful combination of flavours.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I made this stew for the first time today, and it’s delicious! Thanks for sharing it! I just stumbled across your blog this week, and I will be trying more of your recipes in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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