Fennel Risotto with Mushroom Topping
My favorite strategy for making risotto is to mirror the flavors in my main course. I recently developed this fennel risotto dish to pair with Roast Chicken with Pixies, Fennel and Ouzo, which is my variation on Ottolenghi's Roasted Chicken with Clementines and Arak that was published in his Jerusalem cookbook. This easy, one-dish recipe is perfect for stress-free entertaining. I modify the ingredients a bit, use Ouzo instead of Arak, add some garlic and sometimes prunes, which, weird as it sounds is utterly delicious. Serving this one-pan chicken dish with a savory risotto makes for a special pairing. I recently served this at a dinner party for my mom and her husband and one of the guests declared it to be the best rice she had ever eaten.
How to Make Risotto Without Freaking OutMany people get nervous at the thought of making risotto. Trust me, it is not difficult. Yes, it takes some stirring, but if you have everything prepped it is easy to do while sipping on a glass of wine and talking with your guests in the kitchen. Check out my post on how to make risotto to help calm your nerves about this versatile and tasty method of making rice. No matter what your Italian nonna says you can actually make risotto in advance. I recently prepared this fennel risotto for a dinner party several hours before my guests got there. I needed to photograph the dish in natural light. The risotto warmed up beautifully and everyone gobbled it down. So making risotto before your guests arrive is another strategy you can use.
Keep It Simple
I serve the risotto in the pot I made it in and let everyone dig in and help themselves. Alternatively you can plate the risotto individually, but I think it actually has more drama served out of the pot.
Leftover Risotto the Next DayThis recipe easily serves 10 or 12. Although you can cut the recipe in half, resist the urge to reduce the portions. Why? There is nothing better than leftover risotto the next day. I like to make patties out of the leftovers and dip them in a mixture of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Fry them until the outside is crispy and serve them for breakfast with an egg on top, or for dinner nestled on a bed of lightly dressed lettuce. Served this way, risotto leftovers are perfect for a quick weeknight meal.
Fennel Risotto with Mushroom Topping
Yield 10 - 12 servings
This delicious and creamy risotto pairs very well with Roast Chicken with Pixies and Ouzo. The combination makes for a great entertaining meal. Check out the recipe headnotes to see how leftover risotto can be used to a create a couple different delicious meals.
For the risotto:
- 10 cups chicken broth
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 ribs celery, cleaned and cut into 3" pieces
- 1 large shallot, peeled and cut in half
- 4 T butter, divided
- 2 T good quality olive oil
- 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced and then chopped into 1/2" pieces
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup of dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 T fresh thyme, chopped and divided
- Zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
For the mushroom topping:
- 3 T butter, olive oil or a mixture of the two
- 3/4 pound mushrooms, washed, stems removed and sliced
- 1 t fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1- 2 t garlic salt
- 1/4 c dry white wine
For the risotto:
- Pour the chicken broth into a large stock pot and heat until it just begins to boil and turn down to simmer.
- In a food processor finely mince the garlic, celery and shallot. You can do this by hand, but the food processor will save you a ton of time.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pan such as a Dutch oven melt 2 T of butter and 2 T of olive oil. When fat is hot add garlic, celery and shallot mixture, saute on medium for 2 minutes and add the fennel. Cook until soft and just beginning to color, about 5 minutes.
- Add rice to the pan, stir well so all rice is coated in a little fat, adding more if needed. Cook, stirring frequently until the individual rice grains are a solid white in the center and translucent around the edges, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Add the wine and cook stirring until the wine is absorbed. Add a ladle of chicken broth (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup) and stir until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth ladle by ladle and stirring between ladles until absorbed and the rice is nearly done, about 20 minutes. Allow the rice to absorb each ladle of broth before adding the next. Rice will be 90% done when it is firm, but chewy. If there is any starchy crunch to the rice it needs more broth and more stirring.
- Add thyme, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Remove from heat and beat in Parmesan cheese and remaining 2 T butter (this extra butter is optional but very tasty!).
For the mushrooms:
- While you are stirring the risotto start cooking the mushrooms in a separate pan. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add butter or olive oil. Saute for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to color. Add the white wine and continue to cook on low heat until the mushrooms are done and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
- Top the risotto with the mushrooms and sprinkle with a little parsley for added color. You can serve in individual serving bowls or on a plate accompanying your main course. I like to serve this fennel risotto in the pot I cooked it in with the mushrooms scattered over the top for a self-serve buffet option.