April 16, 2008

Fennel Risotto

5 cups chicken stock
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 (loose) cup fennel fronds, lightly chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon butter


In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan Saute the fennel, salt, pepper garlic and onion until lightly caramelized. Add the vermouth and let it cook off. Add the rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before each addition. This will take about 20 minutes total. When the risotto is creamy and the rice is al dente remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and fronds.

My thoughts:
Fennel is in season right now (on the way out, actually) and I've been seeing some prime examples with fresh, fluffy fronds in my local markets. Rather than let the fronds go to waste, I stir them in and the end for a little extra flavor, color and texture interest. This is a pretty subtle tasting risotto so even the fennel wary should like it, the anise flavor is mellowed by the sautéing and all of the broth. Risotto is also super easy and quick to make on a weeknight especially if you (or your dining partner) are a compulsive stirrer like my husband.