The George Blog – Fennel Risotto & Comments

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Fennel Risotto

This is pretty much a no-hassle recipe.

Ingredients:

1 fennel bulb (if it is very small - then use two).
1 fairly large onion, chopped fine.
3 or 4 nice fat cloves garlic, crushed or chopped very fine.
1 red bell pepper diced.
A few small brown mushrooms (say 6 or 7 about 30mm – 1-1/4" across).
325g (1 1-1/2 cups) Arborio rice
900mL (3-1/2 cups) vegtable stock.
250mL (1 cup) dry white wine.

Herbs (ideally) – fresh – all chopped fine:
3 Tbsp mint
2 Tbsp rosemmary
3 Tbsp parsely

If you don't have the fresh herbs, use dried - dried Italian seasoning would do just fine. if you have a mix of fresh and dried, add the dried in the cooking stage and the fresh in the sitting stage.

Zest (fine grated skin) of a lemon. I really try to use organic lemons when the zest is called for because at least they haven't been sprayed to hell and back.

Juice of 1/2 lemon or
Turmeric root – about 50mm (2") long, fat finger size, peeled and grated fine.

Don't use both lemon and turmeric because it gets too "lemony".

1/2 tsp ground coriander seed.
4 Tbsp olive oil.

Method:

Cook this in a large heavy bottomed pan - or I often use our electric wok, which does a great job.

Trim the very ends off the fennel stalks.
Pull off the fennel fronds chop fine and reserve to use with the herbs.
Chop the fennel up fairly fine. Specially the stalks – slice the bigger ones lengthwise and then slice at 3mm (1/8"). Don't pay the slightest attention to the people who say only to use the inner parts of the fennel bulb - it is all good!

Heat the oil and sauté the fennel, onion and garlic on medium heat for about 10 minutes – it should be getting soft and transparent, not brown.

Add the red bell pepper and mushrooms – continue to sauté on medium heat with the pan (wok) covered for another 10-15 minutes. Add a bit of white wine (extra to the recipe amount – can't have too much wine in cooking!) – if necessary, so that everything doesn't stick or start to burn.

Add half the fresh herbs and fennel fronds and lemon zest. If you are using dried herbs, add these now, together with half the lemon zest. Save the chopped fennel fronds until the sitting stage.

Add the coriander.

Add the rice. Stir about and turn everything over and let cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the wine and stock. Add the turmeric. Bring to the boil. Simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes until pretty much all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked but al dente (that is still firm with a slight 'bite' to it).

Add the rest of the herbs/fennel fronds and lemon zest, and the lemon juice (not if you have already used turmeric root). Turn off the heat. Cover and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.

Serves 4 at least, with some left over for the next day. Doesn't really need accompanying vegtables but steamed brussel sprouts are pretty good.

If you don't fancy the yellow colour of turmeric, or you can't buy fresh turmeric root, then simply leave it out and use the juice of 1/2 lemon instead.

Goes well with a soft simple red or a fresh white. Organic wines are usually free of added sulfites and are also often vegan (no crushed up beetles) – so we generally try to find them for everyday use. They are usually palatable, if not always a great wine.

Serve and Enjoy!

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