Fennel and Parmesan Risotto
1 ½litres vegetable stock 2 tbsp olive oil 2 Fennel bulbs, finely chopped 2 Garlic cloves chopped. 400g risotto rice 250ml white wine 50g butter 50g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), half finely grated, half shaved Salt and pepper 2 handfuls soft herbs, such as basil , chervil or chives 1 lemon 3 Slices of Parma ham baked in the oven for 10 minutes 160c until crisp.
Pre heat the vegetable stock as it help keep the flow of the cooking process. Place a large non stick shallow pan onto the heat with a splash of olive oil. Scatter the fennel and garlic into the pan with a sprinkle of salt. Cook the fennel for 4-5 minutes to draw out the moisture and get the flavours going. Add the rice and cook for a further 5 minutes to allow the rice to crack, this will help release the starch from the rice and result in a creamy risotto without adding cream as that is a bog no no in Italy. Pour in the white wine and boil away the alcohol, then pour in the stock a little at a time while stirring at the same time. Making a risotto is a labour of love so it is important to stay with the pan and keep stirring and adding the stock until the rice is tender, but not too soft. Add in the grated parmesan cheese and butter, then stir together. Taste the risotto for seasoning and add salt and pepper if required. To finish the stir in the chopped herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice before plating up. Crumble the crispy ham over the top of each portion of rice for a delicious salt hit of flavour. I like to finish my risotto with more grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of my best extra virgin olive oil . Keep your leftover risotto to make my delicious arancini rice balls with roasted aubergine and tomato sauce.