Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Recipe Number Two...

Three months in and only three posts... Not a great start.

But I do have some excellent recipes to post after all the great things I have eaten.

I'll get one down quickly, and once again it's the recipe for the left over lunch I just ate - Fennel and Broccoli Risotto - Mmmm! Here's what you need (serves 4 - 6):

1 large onion
1 large bulb of fennel (chose one with lots of leaves at the top)
2 sticks of celery
2 fat cloves of garlic
a handful of parsley
a small handful of celery leaves
a small handful of chives
500g of risotto rice or regular basmati at a push (white rice is better really)
a large knob of butter (about a fifth of a pack)
a glug of olive oil
two litres vegetable stock
half a glass of vermouth (optional)

finely chop the onion and celery, and soften in a pan with the olive oil, and some of the butter on a medium/low heat. crush the garlic and ad to the pan after a minute or so. Cut the leaves from the top of the fennel and cut the bulb into 5mm sliced from top to bottom. Add to the pan when the onions are going slightly translucent. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook for another few minutes, then add the rice, and stir around to get all the rice covered in the juices. At this point you can add the vermouth (or white wine if you like) and let the rice absorb as you stir. From now on you want to be stirring almost constantly - you need to stir constantly in order to break the rice down a little and release the starch that gives risotto it's lovely creamy texture.

Gradually add the hot stock, one ladle/cup at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before you add the next, stirring as you go. This is going to take anything between 20 and 30 minutes at least... It depends on the rice. Occasionally when I make this, all the stock gets used up and I'm left having to add more boiling water to get the rice tender and the risotto the right texture... I suppose this happens if you have the heat too high...

In between stirring, chop all the herbs finely, including the fennel and celery leaves. When the rice is soft and the individual grains are beginning to break down, you're pretty much there... However , keep the heat on low, and keep stirring. The idea is to be stirring right up into you are serving the dish. I like a thick, creamy consistency (as they have it in northern Italy, I believe).

Stir in the rest of the butter and the herbs, check seasoning. Serve a spoonful per person, topped with a drizzle of good olive oil and a few sprigs of fennel, on a large plate as an accompaniment to fish or maybe even grilled lamb. It's also absolutely great on it's own, eaten from a bowl, as pure comfort food.


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