In a 3 to 4 quart pan, combine potatoes, bay leaf, and fennel seed. Add enough half-and-half to fully cover the potatoes. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring the half-and-half to a simmer, then lower heat to just maintain the simmer. Cook until the potatoes are soft and tender, about 20 minutes. Take off the heat. The potatoes should be fully cooked at this point.
While potatoes are braising, preheat broiler to medium-high. In a small bowl, combine rosemary, thyme, pecorino, and orange zest.
Generously coat the bottom of a casserole dish with olive oil. Remove potatoes from the half-and-half with a slotted spoon, and transfer them to dish, allowing some of the half-and-half to cling to the vegetables. Add salt or pepper, to taste. Toss with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon), then the herb-cheese-orange zest mixture. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer to promote even browning.
Place the casserole dish under the broiler (about 6 inches away from the source of heat). Broil for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are caramelized and crispy around the edges.