Fennel Risotto

fennel risotto

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.

Fennel Risotto

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
olive oil
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!

15 thoughts on “Fennel Risotto”

  1. i hear you on the non-daytime photos. damn 9-5 job that focused me to do most cooking and photographing at night.

    i love everything about this…except fennel. but this includes sausage, so that might help bring me around.

  2. Thanks Kat

    Stacey, I am stunned to hear you don’t make risotto all the time. Seems like something up your alley.

    Michelle — maybe some very fresh celery in place of the fennel?

  3. Giff, this looks wonderful…I’m in a fennel mood too – just came back from the market with a bulb.

  4. You’re so good! You reminded me how much I want to go see that show. I go to school literally right across the street from the Met, so I have no excuse. I loooove fennel, and just had some in pasta today, in fact. Next time I actually have some homemade stock, I’ll give this a try. Yum yum!

  5. I love fennel in risotto, but I’ve never thought of adding sausage or prosciutto to it. I have some Italian sausage sitting left over in the fridge, so I may have to try this in the next couple of days!

  6. Claire’s gonna stalk you if she finds out you cooked with fennel! She’s known in the underworld as the ‘Fennel Stalker’. Watch your back Giff! 🙂

    This has all the components of a real winner.. sausage, proscuitto, fennel… What’s not to love?

  7. Have I mentioned lately that fennel is one of my favorite vegetables? I’m sure it’s only been a few hundred times or so?

    I did a fennel risotto from Jamie Oliver that was a little disappointing. I like your version better. It’s a sausage thing.

  8. Thanks Vanessa – I actually just swapped out the pic for a new one a few minutes ago because I realized how much I hated the other one! This one has better exposure.

  9. Fennel, sausage and risotto are three of my favorite things. Sounds like a great dish! I know how you feel when you mentioned that you wish you could take photos during the daytime; I share your frustration! Winter makes blogging more challenging in this regard! Your photos look great, though.

  10. Any time you put sausage in risotto, you’ve got a party waiting to happen. And the fennel too? Sounds deliciously Tuscan-themed. If you have time, what are your methods for taking night shots of food? They look pretty darn good to me

  11. I’ve been meaning to share some thoughts from my night-photo-with-not-fancy-camera lessons for months and *have* to carve out the time one of these days. Need work to slow down!

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