Good lord I can’t believe it is December already. Where did the year go? Between work, parenting, election and the economy…. bbbzzzzzaaapppp! I haven’t even gotten up to the Met to see the Morandi exhibit. How someone could so happily paint so many bottles for so long is beyond me. Well, no, that’s a lie. I love that kind of obsessive focus on a problem, like Lucien Freud and his portraits. I’m totally obsessive too, but my obsessions tend to rotate. I can feel the breeze of art obsession starting to waft back in… look, I’m already digressing madly!
But I have to get caught up to the fact that it is December (I think surgery stealing part of November is a culprit). I love New York City in December, so have to find some time this month to wander my grand city.
Like many of you, we’re working through leftover ingredients from last weekend. I’ve got a whole bunch of leftover fennel, so decided to whip up a risotto inspired by an old recipe in one of Food & Wine’s compilations.
1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 or 4 sliced of prosciutto, chopped
2 sweet sausages, poultry or pork, removed from skin
2 tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 or 5 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 handful of parsley, finely chopped
a few fennel fronds, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Bring your stock to a boil and then keep covered until needed at the lowest heat setting.
Heat up a splash or two of olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat and add the fennel, then half of the minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is cooked and just starting to brown, then remove to a bowl.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan, and brown the sausage for a few minutes, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks with your spatula. Add the chopped prosciutto and cook for another couple minutes then remove to the bowl with the fennel.
Add the butter and as it melts, stir in the onion and remaining garlic, add a pinch of salt, and saute until the onion starts to turn translucent. Stir in the arborio rice and cook for a minute or so, then stir in the white wine.
To finish cooking the risotto, you want to stir as continuously as you can stand it, adding one ladle’s worth of stock (or half a cup) at a time. When most of the stock has been absorbed or evaporated, ladle in some more. You don’t want the rice to ever get too soupy or too dry — it should remain bubbling. After 18 to 20 minutes, start tasting the rice. You want there to be a little bit of an al dente texture, i.e. not mushy.
Stir in the fennel, sausage and prosciutto and stir for a minute then turn off the heat. Stir in most of the parsley and parmesan cheese, and — very important — taste for salt and pepper.
Serve and garnish with a bit of the remaining parsley, cheese, and a pinch of the fennel fronds.
P.S. for the umpteenth millionth time, I wish I could take food photos during the daytime!