Chef Nick Castleberry Wings It With Fennel Four Ways

Photo by Tiffany Ran
Yesterday, Chef Nick Castleberry, currently with Skillet Street Food, talked about keeping his life fun and open. Today, he applies the same philosophy to formulating recipes. Like many chefs, Castleberry likes to go by feel, but when asked for a recipe, he came up with one on the fly — including such specific instructions as, "throw in a star anise, just for kicks."

"I'm the kind of guy that, if I'm going to use fennel, I'm going to use the frond, the stalk, bulb, and the seeds. So, four ways," said Castleberry about the recipe. He suggests serving the pickled fennel as an accompaniment to a rabbit confit or a side of pate.

Pickled Fennel Four Ways (written as spoken by Nick Castleberry)

2 cups champagne vinegar

¼ cup of white wine vinegar

1 cup of honey (to taste)

Some fennel fronds

Some pine needles from Foraged and Found

1 Tbsp mustard seeds

1 star anise, just for kicks

1 Tbsp coriander seed

1 Tbsp toasted fennel seed, crushed

A hit of fresh ground pepper, doesn't need it but we're gonna do it anyway


"Take the vinegars, star anise, and honey and bring that up to a boil. After it's boiled, let it sit. Add a hit of fresh ground pepper. Take the fire off it. Take a very small little spoonful, but don't breathe in it! You're gonna lose your breath. Stand away folks! But taste it, and see where the balance is. Is it too vinegary? Does it make you pucker? I can guarantee that it won't be too sweet.

You could always add another tablespoon of honey to that. Take some raw fennel fronds that are clean and some pine needles from Foraged and Found. Let's add them in a container and pour that hot mixture over them until they're submerged. Put a towel over and leave it without a lid so it can breathe. Let it cool and then put it in the fridge and let that sit for a day, then taste it. Try that and see how it works!"

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