I ripped this from Rita Sodi and Jodi Williams' much more refined and delicate recipe for leek confit in Lucky Peach - my favourite food magazine. If you're only cooking for a few people, their recipe would definitely be preferable (though they do use celery, and I'll be dead in the ground before I go near that shit). Mine has less ingredients and also uses leeks as well as fennel cause they go together so well and buying that many fennel can get pricey.
Serves 12 as a side.
4 fennel bulbs
1 bottle cheap white wine (dry is better than sweet - so like a Chardonnay or a sav blanc or something)
1/2 bunch of thyme
5 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of peppercorns
1.5 litres of olive oil
2 litres of water
2 heads (not cloves) of garlic
Serves 12 (with leftovers)
Cut the left green bits off the leeks, then cut the white bit in half through the middle. Wash the pieces well to get any grit out. Cut the leafy green bits off the fennel (you can save the herb for garnish if you like) and slice it vertically - into slices about 2-3 centimetres thick. Peel the garlic.
Now you've got to make little parcels for your herbs - if you've got cheesecloth/linen(???) use it, but I used new clean chux. Wrap the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns in the material, and tie it together at the top with some string or a rubber band so nothing can get out.
Get your biggest pot out and put in the wine, water, and garlic. Cut the lemon and orange in half and sqeeze the juice into it, then chuck the rest of the fruit in too. Add your herb parcels. Bring this to boil with a bit of salt.
(I had to put mine in two pots with half the ingredients in each because it was too big for one, but if you're cooking for less then ten people you could almost definitely fit it all in one big one)
Once they're boiling, turn the heat down so it's just gently simmering, Add the oil, and the leeks and fennel. Taste the liquid and adjust the ratio to taste (if it's too acidic, add oil or water). Simmer until soft, take the herb-parcels and lemon and orange out, and serve.