Monday 8 February 2016

Posted by Judie on Monday 8 February 2016
Creamy, zesty, and comforting, this risotto is simply wonderful.

Serves 4

Risotto Bianco:
  • 6 cups vegetable broth 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 knob of butter 
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped 
  • 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto rice 
  • 1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth 
  • sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 70 g butter 
  • 115 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
Other Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds 
  • extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced 
  • 2 bulbs fennel, finely sliced, herby tops preserved for serving
  • sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1-2 dried chillies 
  • 4 tbsp crumbly ricotta or goat cheese, more to serve
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
Put the fennel seeds into a pestle and mortar and bash up to a powder. Get a wide, hot saucepan, add a couple of splashes of olive oil and fry the garlic until softened, then add the bashed fennel seeds and sliced fennel. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and turn down to a medium-low heat. Place a lid on the pan and cook nice and slowly for around 20 minutes, until the fennel is soft and sweet. 

In the meantime start with the risotto bianco. Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and knob of butter into a separate pan, add the onion, garlic and celery, and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence. 

Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn't cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. When you used about half the stock, stir in the saut├ęd fennel, then keep cooking the risotto until the rice is perfectly cooked, adding a ladle of stock at a time. In total this will take around 15-20 minutes. Taste the rice to check if it’s cooked. If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water. 

Remove from the heat and add the rest of the butter and Parmesan, the crumbled ricotta or goat cheese, and lemon zest. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes amazingly creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while it retains its beautiful texture.  Bash up the dried chillies in the pestle and mortar until you have a fine powder. Divide into four portions, and sprinkle over the chilli powder, the fennel tops, and the remaining ricotta or goat cheese. 

Adapted from Original Recipe

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