By Nancy Caivano
1 large fennel bulb, greens removed, and halved
1 large, sweet onion halved
1/2 cup dried tomatoes, reconstituted in 3/4-cup hot water
for 15 minutes
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped (or 2 tsp. jar chopped garlic)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-3/4 cup simmering chicken stock plus tomato water
2 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp. dry)
3 tbsp. thyme, julienne (or 1 tsp. dry)
Heat oven to 400° F. Spray a baking pan well with cooking spray. Coat fennel and onion with olive oil, and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Roast until well browned, and softened. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times. You don't want to make a purée, but you want the fennel and onion to be well combined. Set aside.
Soak tomatoes in hot water for 15 minutes, drain, reserving water and adding to simmering chicken stock. Julienne tomatoes.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and tomatoes. Cook until garlic just begins to brown. Add rice, stirring constantly, and cook 5 minutes more, making sure rice does not brown. Add wine, stirring constantly, and let totally evaporate. When wine is evaporated, begin adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, letting each addition evaporate before adding the next addition.
After fourth addition of stock is added, begin tasting rice. Rice should be al dente when done. You need to keep tasting rice, because, depending on rice, you may or may not have to use all of the stock. After fourth addition of rice is absorbed, add fennel and onion.
After last addition of stock is absorbed, remove from heat, and stir in butter, Romano, parsley, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Note: You can make risotto cakes from leftover risotto, by mixing 1 beaten egg for every 2 cups risotto, and a little flour. Mix well, and form into thin cakes. Dredge cakes in flour and sauté in olive oil until well browned and crispy. You can also brush them with olive oil and bake in a 350° oven until crisp.
This page created November 1998
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