Now that you have seen the basics for producing a creamy and cheesy risotto, let’s have a look at changing things up a little with the first of my risotto variations.
The great thing about this risotto is that it mixes a range of flavour profiles including the saltiness of the cheese and stock, the sourness of the lemon and the wine as well as the sweet and aniseed spiciness of the Fennel.
Topped with crunchy bacon lardons to add some meaty saltiness, this dish notches the comfort dial, all the way up to 11.
Fennel & Lemon Risotto Ingredients
- 25g Butter
- 1/2 Onion (Finely Chopped)
- 1 Fennel (Top & Tailed, Then Finely Sliced) – Keep the Feathery Green Fur on top.
- 250g Arborio Rice
- 125ml Dry White Wine
- 1.25l of Chicken\Vegetable Stock (Brought to a gentle simmer in a separate pan)
- 50g Butter (Cubed)
- 50g Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
- Zest of a lemon (Grated)
- Place the 25g of butter into a pan and allow to melt on a medium heat.
Once suitably melted, add the onion and the finely sliced fennel then allow to cook through until everything has softened but not browned.
- Pour in the Rice and allow to take on some of the butter as well as the heat from the pan. Lightly toasting the rice without adding the colour – About 2 Minutes
- Pour in the white wine and once reduced by half, you can start ladling in your chosen stock. Once the ladle full has been absorbed, add another and keep going until the rice has plumped up and tripled in volume.
- When the rice is nice and soft with just a touch of bite or resistance on the teeth, add the 50g of butter and the 50g of Parmesan cheese then mix will. Allow everything to combine well and create a rich glossy sauce.
- Grate a little lemon zest and chop the feathery green fur of the fennel then sprinkle of the top of your finished risotto.
- Let this sit for around 5 minutes so that things cool down and settle before enjoying with a touch garlic bread.
Any other pointers?
To add a little extra saltiness and texture to the mix, I put a standard pack of lardons under the grill and turned occasionally until they were browned and cooked through.
They were then sprinkled over the top of the finished Risotto.
Letting the Risotto sit for 5 minutes helps to reduce the temperature which can be blisteringly hot and do some serious damage to your cheeks and tongue.
I mean, you want to be able to taste the food right?
The finished risotto should be loose enough that it spreads in a wave formation when scooped into a bowl or on a plate, rather than creating a thick mound of rice.
You could add a touch more stock to loosen things up if all else fails
In order to test the rice, I occasionally pick out an individual grain and bite it between my front teeth to test its resistance.
You want it to have some texture without being too chalky in the middle.
Just test before each ladle full of stock so that you don’t risk having to cook the stock out and overcooking the rice.
For controlled thin slices of the fennel, it might be worth investing in a mandolin.
These v-shaped slicers, though a little risky, are perfect for creating thin slices quickly and efficiently.