Risotto with Fennel & Vodka
This elegant risotto, adapted from "The Café Cookbook" by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, is bracing and just a bit boozy.
- 3 small fennel bulbs, with their green tops
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 small dried red chilies
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 cup vodka
- Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups Carnaroli, Vialone Nano or Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground black pepper
Adapted from online.wsj.com
Remove and discard outer leaves of fennel bulbs and finely chop bulbs. Chop fennel tops and reserve.
Use a mortar and pestle to crush garlic, chilies, fennel seeds and 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, forming a paste.
In a medium-size, nonreactive bowl, mix together vodka, lemon juice and chopped fennel tops. Set aside to macerate.
In a medium stockpot, bring broth to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt half of butter along with oil. Add onions and sweat 2 minutes. Add fennel seed paste and stir to combine. Add chopped fennel bulb and cook, stirring, until soft, 7 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat.
Start adding broth, one ladle at a time. Stir continuously, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed by rice before adding the next. Continue until rice is al dente, about 20 minutes. Stir in remaining butter, fennel-vodka mixture and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.