Adapted from Ina Gartin
2 small fennel bulbs
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, halved
2 T olive oil
2 T unsalted butter
2 lbs potatoes
2 cups plus 2 T milk or heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar Note: A sharp cheddar will overpower the fennel. Stick with the mild. Ina recommends Gruyere.
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the inside of a large baking dish – 9 X 13 or larger – with the garlic and butter.
  2. Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise. Saute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender. 
  3. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes, then thinly slice. Combine the potatoes with 2 cups milk, 2 cups cheese, salt and pepper. Add the fennel mixture and thoroughly combine.
  4. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Press down to smooth out the potatoes. Combine the remaining 2 T milk and 1/2 cup cheese and sprinkle on the top. 
  5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes and serve.

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