Curb Market Crawl – Meatier, Meat Sauce

Curb Market Crawl – Meatier, Meat Sauce

Fennel Dee, Dee…

” I adore thinly shaved fennel tossed with a light olive oil vinaigrette, scattered on a fresh  roasted garlic and white truffle pizza.”

… said by – absolutely no one at the Dahlonega Walmart… ever…

And I know that because I found  Six – marked down, re-labeled, name changed and marked down again, and a Manager’s Special sticker attached – fennel bulbs at  my local meg-lo-maniacal mart for a whopping 2 bucks… total!
Call me crazy – but that’s like finding out your cat makes diamond encrusted, solid gold um.. surprises in the litter box.

During my last foray down towards points more cosmopolitan, in places with produce enhancing lighting and pressed green aprons, they were well over $3.00 per bulb!
So.. yeah… I was stoked!
and I bought 12.

Granted – Wally’s isn’t exactly what you’d call a curb market, not by a long shot.
But it was just off the main road…. and I did have to drive there….

… and did I mention it was 12?

Needless to say – there’s going to be some “fenneling” to do here.

As I sat with my dozen little friends nestled around me, I thought about my good fortune.. and why was it that I was able to reap such a bounty.
~ Did the $4 price tag scare some people away? … probably
~ Granted, it’s not what you’d call common, like say a tomato, but it been around a long time. And, I mean a long time – it’s all bound up in Greek and Roman mythology even.
~ Maybe it’s just that people don’t really know what they can do with it. Just the other day I had someone (a full-sized living adult) ask me what eggplant tasted like…
The Basics – 

Fennel is a very aromatic and flavorful herb. The entirety of the plant – roots, bulbous base, stalks, leaves, dried flowers and seeds, are  all edible and used in a variety of situations. It is similar in flavor to anise (with a light licorice note), but more on the citrusy, sweeter side.

Roots – extracts from the roots were once used to treat glaucoma
Bulb / Stalks – can be substituted anywhere you’d normally use celery.  You can serve it raw, braise it, roast and grill it.
Leaves – As an addition to a fresh salad, or saute with fish
Dried Flowers (commonly referred to as Fennel Pollen) – sauces, dry rubs, marinades
Seeds – Add it to soups, stews, breads, and as a surprise kicker to your favorite spaghetti sauce.

You might as well get comfy… I’ll be doing a run of fennel recipes over the next week or so.

First up:

Meatier Meat Sauce with Fennel
Generally speaking, I like my bolognese style sauces more meat than sauce, so some of you might find it a bit thick for your liking. You can always thin it down a bit with chicken or beef stock to get to something you’re happier with. 
And, yes I’ve used breakfast sausage. Taking into consideration that bulk Italian sausage runs around $3 a pound – and breakfast sausage is a buck, why not save a bit on the costs where it really isnt going to make much of a difference.
Serves 8
Ingredients
1 Pound Lean Ground Beef
1 Pound Bulk Breakfast Sausage
2 Cloves Garlic – Minced
1 Bulb Fennel – Rough Chopped
1 Medium Onion – Chopped
2 Ribs Celery – Minced
1 Red Sweet Pepper – Julienne
1 – 12 Ounce Can Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Cups Red Wine
2 Cloves – Crushed
1 Bay Leaf
1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
Dutch Oven

On medium high heat, brown the sausage and ground beef together
Drain and reserve 1/2 of the grease
Add the reserved fat back to the pot and add the fennel, onions, garlic, and celery
Saute until the onions are translucent
Add the peppers, red pepper, clove, and bay leaf – saute until the cloves are aromatic ( about 2 minutes)
Add the sauce, paste and red wine – stir well to mix
Add the meat mixture back to the pot and stir it all together
Taste and adjust for salt and seasonings
Cover the pot and reduce to low
Simmer for 45 minutes on low – Remember to check the pot occasionally , skim off the excess grease and give it a good stir

Cook up your favorite pasta in super salty water and serve it up!

I know the general thought these days is to mix the pasta and sauce together…
but I’ve always been a sauce on top kinda guy.

6 thoughts on “Curb Market Crawl – Meatier, Meat Sauce

  1. Fiona – I used to love getting down and dirty in the dent can sales… but they aren't allow to sell them here anymore. But getting out and really digging around in the produce sections, you can almost always find a jewel. Maybe not crazy cheap like the fennel… but something that always makes it worth the effort

  2. Elizabeth.. I'll be the first to admit it – I've been known to spend outrageous amounts of money on perishables, but I've always got my eye out for a bargain. Part of me wanted to ask the green grocer.. "are you sure this is right?" but didn't … just in case it was a mistake and they crank the price back up.

  3. I love fennel – and fennel seed and fennel pollen too. Great with fish. I have to admit I go into our local co-op to look for mark-downs on slightly obscure foods. Waitrose, which is a bit more upmarket only has mark downs on dented cans – the Co-op it's fennel, aubergine (egg plant to you), pak choi and pui lentils.

  4. You had me laughing at the "finding out your cat makes diamond encrusted, solid gold". I can imagine that feeling – I get it when I find earth worms in the garden. I do like fennel, tried a fennel salad at a Japanese buffet once. And went back for seconds. I like my meat sauce meaty too. None of that liquidy thing for me, no thanks 🙂

  5. I noticed that you're a 'thrifter' like me…buying bulk sausage is a genius idea, which I often do to add to the ground beef, and the addition of the fennel adds a 'heavenly' flavor to it. I love a good shaved fennel salad, especially with orange slices or segments and a nice vinaigrette drizzled over it. Also really good with chickpeas, and olives…yumm! Great buy and super great bargain:)

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