Make it. Eat it. Love it.
I never liked fennel really. The strong anise flavor of it reminded me too much of black licorice that I was never a fan of. It wasn’t until recently that I started enjoying fennel in my salads or braised with chicken. Having never cooked with it, it somehow got pushed into the back of my mind until I found myself dinning on a salad filled with it at a wonderful restaurant in Jerusalem.
Shopping in the shuk (market) I always see piles and piles of the fragrant anise flavored vegetable but it wasn’t until after my lovely lunch in Jerusalem I decided to pick some up. The fennel sat in my fridge as I pondered what to do with it. I never cooked with fennel before. So I suppose it is fitting that a first for me is the first recipe post on this blog.
This is one of those wonderfully easy to prepare meals that is sure to please anyone. With any risotto it takes time but the outcome is worth the 20 minutes of standing in front of the stove stirring the risotto rice so it stays nice and creamy. The anise flavor of the fennel mellows out as it cooks and so I decided to add chopped raw fennel towards the end to give the risotto a stronger anise flavor and add a textural difference to the dish. Originally I wanted to use fresh ricotta cheese but bought mascarpone by mistake (damn hebrew labels). As it turns out my purchasing mistake worked in my benefit. The addition of the mascarpone made for a creamy and wonderful sauce. The addition of the red pepper flakes as garnish really added a bit of heat and depth to the dish.
Inspired by your regular fennel and orange salad I give you my fennel and orange risotto.
FENNEL AND ORANGE RISOTTO
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 1/2 Fennel, Chopped
1/2 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds
1 Onion, Chopped
1 Cup White Wine
2 Clove Garlic, Finely Chopped
1 Cup Arborio Rice
4 Cup Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Mascarpone Cheese
Dried Chili Flakes
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan (plus more for garnish)
1 Orange, Zested & Juiced
Heat the chicken stock in a small pan over a low heat.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add in the fennel seeds, onions, & 1 chopped fennel and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
Add in the rice and stir to coat in the oil and butter. When the rice starts to turn translucent add in the wine and cook until it evaporates.
Add a ladle of the hot stock and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed continue adding ladles of stock in the same manor. Continue to stir the rice until all liquid is absorbed. About 20 minutes.
When the rice is cooked remove the pan from the heat, add the remaining 1/2 chopped fennel, Parmesan cheese, mascarpone, orange zest and orange juice. Stir to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with a pinch of dried chili flakes and Parmesan.