The key to this risotto is letting the fennel cook gently for a fairly long time, allowing it to soften, caramelise and become delicate in flavour. I like to deglaze the pan with wine before adding the rice to help meld all of the flavours together. The sliced prosciutto practically melts into the risotto, adding a salty kick that balances so well with the sweetness of fennel.
- Fennel stalks from one fennel
- 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 cup light olive oil
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 eschallot, very finely diced
- 1 medium sized celery stalk, very finely diced
- 1 large fennel, very finely sliced (using a mandolin is ideal if you have one) - keep the stalks for your stock, removing the fronds ready for serving
- 2 ltr good quality chicken or vegetable stock)
- 180ml dry white wine (we used a Vermentino)
- 375g risotto rice
- 25g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 50g grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
- 4 slices thinly sliced Prosciutto
- Cut the stalks off of the fennel keeping the fronds intact. Place into a saucepan with 1/2 tablespoon of fennel seeds and 1 cup of light olive oil. Simmer on a low heat for one hour, whirling the pan occasionally. Set aside to cool, before straining into a jug ready to serve.
- On a low heat, add the butter and olive oil to a large pan, shortly followed by the eschallot and celery. Sauté for a few minutes before adding the thinly sliced fennel. Continue to sauté gently on a low heat for about 15 minutes, making sure that you don’t allow the fennel to brown - you just want to soften the vegetables as gently as possible. In another saucepan add your stock and leftover fennel stalks and place on a low heat.
- Back to the main pan, add 180ml of white wine and let that cook for a few minutes before adding in the rice. Stir well to coat the rice in all of the beautiful juices in the pan. After a minute or so the rice will start to turn opaque - indicating this is when you need to start adding stock.
- Add stock one ladle at a time, stirring frequently to help bring out the starch in the rice. Never let the rice completely dry out before adding your next ladle. Risotto is a labour of love, so prepare to dedicate the next 15-20 minutes to nursing and stirring. Continue adding stock by the ladle until the rice is cooked through and with a very slight bite to it. The consistency shouldn’t be gloopy or clumpy - you should be able to use a spoon to part the risotto and it quickly fall back together.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining butter and grated Parmigiano. Stir to combine, check for seasoning and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving. If you feel the risotto has stiffened too much over this time, add a half ladle of stock and stir through before serving.
- Serve in a shallow plate, letting the risotto spill out to cover the base. Add a couple of very thin slices of prosciutto on top of the rice. Scatter with fennel fronds, a drizzle of the fennel oil and a dusting of grated Parmigiano.
This recipe was created by Gabriella from @_noregrettispaghetti, check out Gabriella's instagram page here or website here.
Gabriella is a Londoner born to Armenian/Canadian parents, with a love of all things Italian, especially pasta. She fell in love with food between the pages of her mum’s Reader’s Digest cookbooks, and at the table of her grandmother’s Cypriot kitchen, watching dolma be rolled and lahmajun made.
When she’s not making her favourite carb, she can be found sharing some of her recipes on her blog, drinking far too much coffee, or hanging out with her dog, Gordon.