Fennel Risotto with Chopped Pistachios

I found this recipe in the wine/food pairing section of the Gall & Gall magazine. Fennel risotto is very subtle and has a nice sweetish touch.

We were quite interested in the addition of the pistachios and the wine pairing of course: a 2013 Mara Martin Godello. A white wine from a Godello grape native to the Monterrei region in Spain (EUR 8 a bottle).

The recipe:

No online recipe, so here it goes:

For the braised fennel:

  • 50g butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 fennel bulbs (diced)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (bruised)

For the risotto:

  • 1lt vegetable stock (from half a stock cube)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (grated)
  • 300g of risotto rice
  • good splash of Pernod
  • 100ml of dry white wine
  • 25g of butter
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 150g shelled pistachios (roughly chopped)

Let’s start cooking!

  1. Heat the stock and keep close to a simmer.
  2. Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan and add the garlic to soften; add the fennel and fennel seeds and braise with the lid on for approx. 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, add the olive oil in large heavy based pan on medium heat, add onion and garlic cloves and fry a couple of minutes until soft, but not browned.
  4. Set heat to medium-high, add risotto rice and toast it for a couple of minutes, while stirring often to avoid the onion and garlic to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the Pernod and white wine and stir in.
  6. When well absorbed, add a ladle of stock and stir until well absorbed and repeat process until the stock is used and the risotto is cooked. It will take about 20-25 minutes and the rice should still have some bite, but should not be chalky.
  7. About 5-10 minutes before the risotto is finished stir in the braised fennel.
  8. Finally, add butter and parmesan and season to taste.
  9. Serve with chopped pistachios

What worked and what didn’t:
It was really nice spring/summer risotto. Good rice to liquids ratio. The pistachios enhanced the slight sweetness of the fennel and added some nuttiness (no shit, Sherlock…).

It can use a good glug of Pernod, but I don’t recommend to be too close to the pan when you pour it in, as the fumes are very strong… The wine itself was quite fruity, a tad too sweet for my taste to drink standalone, but went very well with this risotto.

On the downside I thought that this stock distinctly lacked flavour; even with the added parmesan, the risotto was pretty much flat. It can be solved with extra seasoning, but using a stronger stock to begin with will give the risotto more depth.

Recipe accuracy:
The recipe was easy to follow. It serves about 4 to 6 persons (I usually use 50-60g rice per person).

Suggested tweaks:
At least use 1 or even 2 cubes for the stock as it will definitely reduce the amount of seasoning needed at the end. When trimming the fennel, do reserve the green fluffy bits and use them to finely chopped to stir in at the last minute and sprinkle over the risotto to give that fresh aniseedy flavour.

Verdict: 8/10; Will be made again

3 thoughts on “Fennel Risotto with Chopped Pistachios

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