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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.

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Rate this recipe 4.1/5 (9 Votes)


  • 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


Step 1

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.

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