Friday, December 26, 2008

Risotto ai Finocchi con Ricotta e Peperoncino

I approach a Christmas Eve menu with the intention of keeping it simpler than Christmas day and keeping it mostly meatless. It also tends to be Italian, and this year I decided on a main course of risotto. When I make risotto at home, it’s always with either mushrooms or seafood, but this time I wanted to try something different. So, I asked Kurt to pick a risotto from Jamie's Italy, and he chose this fennel and dried chili variation.

The preparation begins the same as any other risotto except that Jamie includes chopped celery with the onion and garlic. Once those are sautéed together, the rice is added and stirred until translucent. Then begins the dance of adding wine and stirring and then chicken broth and stirring and then stirring more and more and so forth. I don’t mind the stirring so much when I have a nice glass of Sangiovese and some sharp provolone and asiago for refreshment, and I did have those things nearby and all was well. For this dish, there were two pans of sautéing vegetables working at once. Thinly sliced fennel and some mashed-up fennel seeds cooked while the risotto got its start. The fragrance of the fennel and fennel seed cooking together was enough to tell me this was going to be a fine meal.

When the risotto reached the half-way point, the sautéed fennel was added. At the end of the cooking time, butter and parmigiana were stirred in with lemon zest, lemon juice, and some ricotta. To serve, each plate was topped with torn, dried red chilis, fennel tops, a drizzle of olive oil, and a bit more parmigiana. The sweet fennel flavor with the hot red chilis worked nicely, and the lemon did a lovely job of perking up everything else. Kurt did well with his risotto selection, and we’ll definitely be making this one again.


  1. ohh yum! i love the idea of combining fennel and red chili. i'll bet this was delicious!

  2. having never made risotto for myself, i can only say that your creation looks soothing and delicious. it almost makes me want to attempt to make my own. :)

  3. we had risotto on christmas eve as well - kind of similar to this but we topped ours with a pan-seared small filet of striped bass. yours looks great and you get points for the chirstmas look!

  4. I love risotto! This sounds tasty so I'll have to try it out. I look forward to seeing more recipes from you.

  5. Could that picture be more perfect...yum risotto...

  6. This is a new one for me! Looks really yummy too..gearing up with recipes for the cold winter days
    hopefully ahead!


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