Risotto is one of those dishes that chefs try to belittle you about if it's not perfect. Watch Top Chef and the judges are nasty and critical when someone makes risotto. They usually get all indignant and say it's not creamy enough. Well, that's nonsense. If you go through the fairly easy but labor intensive act of making risotto for someone, they should just thank you, dry, creamy or whatever, lol. It's a lot of stirring, it's an act of love but it is worth it. I used the spring onions, fennel and basil from the CSA box.
Fennel and Sausage Risotto, inspired by Food and Wine magazine.
3 tablespoons Olive Oil, separated
1 pound bulk Italian Sausage
2 tablespoons fresh Basil, sliced thin
1 Fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
2 Spring Onions, chopped fine
1 cup + 1/4 cup Arborio Rice
1/2 cup White Wine
pinch Saffron threads, rubbed together in your hand (it gives the risotto a slight golden color)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
6 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Romano, grated
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Cook the sauseage for about 5 minutes, until most of the pink is gone. Add fennel and basil and cook for about 5 - 10 minutes more, until fennel is soft. Remove from burner, cover pan to keep in the heat.
In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken broth to a simmer, then turn down heat to low.
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add in rice and stir for a couple of minutes until well coated with the oil. Add the saffron and wine, cooking until the wine is mostly absorbed. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, stirring until mostly absorbed. Continue adding chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is mostly absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. For the last 1/2 cup, watch to make sure it doesn't absorb too much, as you want the risotto to have a creamy texture (or Tom Colicchio will snear at you). Add in Sausage and Fennel mixture and grated cheese. Stir and serve with a basil garnish.
It really is delicious, the rice is lighlty "al dente" and the sausage and fennel are very tasty together.