This is my first attempt at risotto, and darling, it is nothing short of a miracle! I got scared away from making this dish because of all the looks chef Giorgio Locatelli was giving a family of contestants on one episode of The Big Family Cooking Showdown. Well folks. I didn't really find it that scary. It just requires you to pay very close attention to the rice. Burned rice is bad. Fluffy rice is good.
I also want to make note that using a decent wine makes all the difference. For this recipe I used Corvo Pinot Grigio. I am not a white wine fan usually, but this one really hit the spot. (Yes, I tasted it.....thoroughly)
This dish can be a simple main dish. You can add your favorite grilled protein to it. Shrimp would be superb. But honestly, it was extremely filling just as it was!
2 tablespoons olive oil + 3 for caramelizing fennel
2 fennel bulbs, sliced thickly. Reserve the tops. Mince for garnish.
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio Rice (no substitutions, I used Lundberg Family Farms Rice)
1 cup white wine + 1/2 cup for fennel (I used Pinot Grigio)
8 cups vegetable stock + 1/2 cup for fennel
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Have all your ingredients ready, due the rapid nature of this recipe!
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Drizzle a little oil In a large non-stick roasting pan, arrange fennel in one layer. Drizzle with more olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Bake about 15 minutes on each side until deeply browned. Add garlic and white wine, bake another 2-3 minutes. Turn off oven, allowing the fennel to absorb the wine & stock.
In a large heavy saucepan, saute onion in olive oil over medium heat until the onion is soft.
Add in rice and stir until the grains are well coated with oil.
Pour in the white wine and simmer until the rice absorbs the wine, about 3 minutes.
Add hot vegetable stock, about 1 cup at a time until the rice absorbs it. Stirring constantly. Don't even blink, folks!. This process will take about 20 minutes. The risotto should be creamy and tender.
Remove from heat. Stir in parmesan. Top with caramelized fennel, sprinkle with minced tops. Serve immediately!