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- In a large saucepan combine milk and heavy cream.
- Split vanilla bean lengthwise.
- Using a small paring knife, scrap out seeds and then put seeds and pod into milk mixture.
- Add fennel seeds and ¾ cup of basil leaves.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Remove from heat and allow flavors to steep for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the remaining ¼ cup of basil and set aside in a moist paper towel to keep fresh.
- In a medium stainless steel bowl, combine yolks and sugar, whisk for 2 to 3 minutes until it reaches a pale yellow color, and sugar is dissolved.
- Reheat milk mixture until very hot but not boiling, and slowly pour about a third of it into eggs, whisking constantly.
- Then pour this mixture back into the saucepan with remaining milk.
- Over medium heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon until thick and can coat the back of the spoon.
- Do not let it boil.
- Remove bean pods and strain seeds, vanilla beans and leaves while transferring into a large bowl.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Using an ice cream machine, process according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Just before frozen, add reserved chopped basil to ice cream in the machine.
- Serve when firm enough to scoop.