Fennel and crispy prosciutto risotto

Creamy, rich risotto flavored with herby, anise fennel and served with crispy shards of salty prosciutto, now that sounds good, doesn’t it?

There are a few little tips I’d like to share with you about „risotto“.

First and most importantly is your choice of rice. Arborio or Carnaroli, are the best for this dish, the grains are short and fat, and therefore release more starch than their long grained cousins. This starch is what gives the rice a creamy and rich texture.

Second, toast the rice. This may sound strange, but before any liquid goes into the rice, you should first „toast” it in the pan with the onions and whatever other aromatics you have chosen. Just add the rice to the pan, and on a medium heat stir it until its glossy and toasty, it should take about 5 minutes. This process helps the rice maintain its structure as you are adding the liquid.

Third, the stock. Risotto is best made with a good stock, whether its vegetable, chicken etc.. the stock should be rich and flavorful. Make sure not to pour all the stock into the rice at one time. It should be added „ladle by ladle“ and between every ladle you should stir the rice, until it absorbs almost all the liquid, before adding the next one.

Fourth, although you should never leave the rice alone, try not to over-stir; you will lose the creamy texture if you do. Give the rice a good stir every 30 seconds or so, that is just enough.

Fifth, once the rice has absorbed all the liquid (about 18 mins), it’s time to let the risotto rest for about 5 minutes in order for the it to reduce in temperature a little, then you have  „mantecatura“ stage, when you enrich the risotto with good butter and Parmesan cheese.

Fennel and crispy prosciutto risotto

200 g onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

200 g fennel bulb, cut into thin slices

1 tsp. fresh thyme

300 g Arborio rice

600 ml chicken/vegetable stock

70 ml white wine

6 slices of prosciutto

30 ml olive oil

50 g butter

50 g grated Parmesan

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 C, line a baking dish with parchment paper, and lay the slices of prosciutto on it. Place in the oven for about 13-15 mins until crisp.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and add the onions and garlic. Saute until they start to turn golden, and then add the fennel. Saute the fennel until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper.

Add the rice to the fennel and onion mixture, and toast for 3 or 4 minutes (this helps the grains of rice hold their shape). Pour in the white wine and stir until it completely evaporates. Reduce the heat to medium and ladle by ladle, add the stock, stirring all the time. Allow the liquid to almost “disappear” before adding the subsequent ladle.

This process should take about 15 minutes, by then the rice should be cooked, and very creamy. Stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese right at the end, and allow the rice to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon the risotto onto a plate and top it off with shards of crispy prosciutto and torn basil. Enjoy