Risotto with Caramelized Fennel, Sausage and Parmeggiano
We love risotto, and I make it with all sorts of different ingredients. Usually we have it for Sunday lunch, but with the sausage and fennel, this risotto becomes a really hearty meal – for lunch or for dinner – with a salad or some toasty bread.
Makes 6-8 servings
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups finely chopped fennel (cut the fennel bulb in half, remove the core, slice each half in half again, and then slice thinly)
3/4 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casings removed
6 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a shallot Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is caramelized and very tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside in a large bowl.
In the same Dutch oven, heat an additional tablespoon of oil, and raise the heat back to medium-high. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon and stirring often, until the sausage is in small pieces and is thoroughly cooked through, 7-8 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer the sausage to the bowl with the fennel.
In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock and water to a low simmer, and keep warm on the stove until needed.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallot and 1 teaspoon of the salt, reducethe heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the rice, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, to lightly toast. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed by the rice, 1-2 minutes.
Reduce the heat back to medium-low and begin adding the warm stock, about 1 cup at a time. Stir often with a wooden spoon and let each addition be absorbed before adding the next.
Continue adding the stock, and stirring, until the rice is tender but still al dente. (this will take about 30 minutes total – you will probably not use all of the stock)
Add the reserved sausage and fennel and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, parsley, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and the white pepper. Serve immediately with additional grated Parmagiano- Reggiano cheese.