Striper for eight with leek and fennel ragout*

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We know all the right people.  Our friend Bob gave us another striper (you can read about the first one here).  We corralled a bunch of our friends, and ate most of it in one fell swoop.  I served it, grilled, on a bed of this ragout, accompanied by a green salad and roasted potatoes.

I was a little worried about the ragout, since I found that I couldn’t rely on my sense of proportion when I was cooking for so many people.  But it turned out pretty well, and was a nice accompaniment for the fish (which Kevin grilled perfectly).  It would also work with pretty much any grilled fish, as well as pork or chicken.

Leek and Fennel Ragout with Olives and Capers (serves eight)

2 T. vegetable oil (divided, unless you have a really big pan)
6 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
2 fennel bulbs, sliced
10-15 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chopped green olives
1/3 cup chopped capers
2 T. Pernod or other anise liqueur
½ cup vermouth
1 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. (Unless your saucepan is the size of a garbage can lid, or you’re scaling the recipe down, you’re going to need two saucepans. If you’re only using one, use all the oil.) Add the leeks and sauté, stirring frequently, until they’re limp and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, do the same for the fennel. When both vegetables are reduced, combine them in one of the saucepans, and add the garlic, olives, and capers. Cook another few minutes, stirring frequently.

3. Add the Pernod and vermouth, and cook until it has almost all evaporated. Add the stock, and simmer until the ragout is the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper.

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