I just can’t help wanting to make creamy comfort foods this time of year. So when I picked up Jaime’s Italy and saw all the neat risotto ideas I was sold. I made this with a few of my girlfriends as part of my birthday celebration and it was great fun. I had lots of company while I stirred and we managed to time dinner perfectly – I still have trouble timing foods around risotto. I am thinking this means I should make it more, you know for practice. The original recipe calls for fennel seeds and ricotta rather then goat cheese but the goat cheese was really good, it got all melty and creamy.
This is one of the first times I have ever cooked with fennel and certainly the first time I have made a fennel focused dish. There are so many vegetables I barely tried until leaving home which fall into this category – yams, brussel sprouts, squash, eggplant, etc. I will definitely do it again, I am thinking maybe a pasta with goat cheese and braised or roasted fennel would be really good? I actually tried to grow fennel this year but it wasn’t in a sunny enough location and it didn’t make it. However I am determined to try again, far more interesting then celery! In fact I bet you didn’t know that florence fennel – the vegetable kind was one of the main ingredients in absinthe!
[print_this]Fennel Risotto with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Jaime’s Italy
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced with herby tops saved
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup onions, chopped
2 small dried chiles, crumbled
1.5 cups arborio rice
1 glass white wine
1 litre chicken stock, approximately
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup freshly grated parmesan
1 lemon, zest and juice
4 tablespoons soft goat cheese
1. In a large skillet add a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat and saute the garlic until soft then add the fennel and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly over medium low heat until fennel is soft – about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile start the risotto. Melt 1T of butter in a heavy casserole pot (I like enameled cast iron) over medium low heat. Meanwhile put the stock in another pot over low heat. Add chiles and onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes – don’t let it brown. Add the rice and stir it all together allowing the rice to absorb the moisture of the butter. Cook, stirring constantly for about a minute, don’t let it stick. Add the wine and continue stirring until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add stock by the ladle until it has been absorbed stirring constantly. After your second addition of stock has been absorbed add the cooked fennel.
3. Once you risotto is just lightly al dente add the parmesan, remaining butter and lemon zest. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice, tasting to make sure you don’t add too much. Stir in the herby fennel fronds.
4. Serve hot with crumbled goat cheese on top.[/print_this]