2 T unsalted butter, divided
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 fennel bulbs (about 1 1/2 lb) thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced 1/8 thick
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 clove garlic halved
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup gruyere cheese
Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13X9X2 or 3 quart baking dish with one tbsp butter set aside.
Heat remaining butter and oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add Fennel, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is evenly coated and begins to sizzle, about 2 minutes. Add wine or vermouth and 1 bay leaf. Cover reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until fennel is tender, about 20 minutes.
Uncover, increase heat to medium high and cook, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated and fennel is golden brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add 1-2 T water to deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan for added flavor. DISCARD BAY LEAF. set fennel aside.
Bring remaining bay leaf, potatoes, cream, milk and garlic to a simmer in a large, wide pot ( watch carefully, do not let mixture boil over. Season with salt and pepper and cover with lid slightly ajar. Simmer gently until potatoes are just tender and liquid has thicken, about 10 minutes. DISCARD BAY LEAR AND GARLIC).
Using a slotted spoon, Transfer fennel to pot and gently stir together add 1/2 of cheese and gently stir mixture together. Transfer to baking dish spread evenly into dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cover and bake for 35 minutes. remove cover and bake until top is bubbling and golden about 20-30 minutes longer. Remove from oven let cool 5 minutes and serve... Enjoy