I had some chicken broth to use up after my last batch of risotto, and a bunch of vegetables from this week’s installment of my farm share. Most of the vegetables are leafy, but I did find fennel and carrots. These are aromatics, and I am currently lacking the aromatics (shallots or onions) that I would normally start a risotto with. I must admit, though, that I have never cooked fennel before, so I wasn’t exactly sure how strong it was or how to cook it. I should have paid better attention to Iron Chef America: Battle Fennel last night. I used some of the green stem and some of the white root, and sprinkled some leaves on the top at the end. I learned from Iron Chef that you can eat practically every part of fennel; I love foods like that.
The flavor wasn’t too strong; the risotto came out pretty well, with just a general soft, fresh sweetness to it. Nice. The only problem was that, even though I started cooking the fennel before starting the rice, and then cooked them together the whole time, the fennel was kind of tough. At the very least, I’ll mince it in the future. The internet says that fennel has that problem, and peeling it and cutting it thinly seems to be the general consensus on how to avoid it. Here’s a post on good things to do with fennel, which I am mostly linking to because I love the tagline of the blog: “I wrote you a restaurant review, but I eated it.”
For anyone who doesn’t know how one makes a carrot fennel risotto, the procedure is as follows:
- Sweat aromatics in olive oil. Meanwhile, start heating some broth in another pot.
- Add arborio rice and cook for a couple minutes.
- Add a splash of wine and let it cook off.
- Add broth, a ladleful or two at a time, to the rice. Stir.
- Add more broth when the last installment is gone. Do this about 3-4 times, until the rice is the texture you want; if you normally like your starches very soft, you may want to cook it slightly less than you think you should, based on a past “adventure” I had with mushy risotto.
- Add any other stuff you want to be in your risotto. Parmesan cheese is recommended.
- Serve immediately. Yes, for real.
I used about 100g of rice this time, and I think it was just about right. I’m really bad at eyeballing it because it grows so much when it cooks, so I’ve taken to measuring it on my baking scale.