“This is one of my favourite side dishes and, frankly, it's so good I sometimes just have it for lunch with a big fresh salad to provide a bit of contrast. It's easy to put together, and always delivers big on flavour, whatever you serve it with. ”
Peel the potatoes and onions and trim the fennel bulbs, reserving any herby fennel tops for later.
Finely slice the potatoes, onions and fennel just under ½cm thick, with patient knife skills or, ideally, on a mandolin (use the guard!).
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
Pour the milk and cream into a pan. Tear in the anchovies, crush in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher, add the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves and finely grate in half the nutmeg.
Bring to a light boil on a medium heat, then immediately turn the heat off and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Fish out and discard the herbs, finely grate and whisk in most of the Parmesan, then taste and season to perfection.
In a 25cm x 30cm baking dish, layer up the slices of potato, onion and fennel. Pour over the cream mixture and finely grate over the remaining Parmesan.
Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes, or until tender and nicely golden.
Remove from the oven, tear and scatter over any reserved fennel tops, and serve.
Mix it up – feel free to swap out the fennel and hero other seasonal veg in this recipe, such as slices of celeriac or tender celery heart.