Roberston says the recipe was given to her by a friend, Susi, adding, “even if you’re not usually a fan of this anise-tasting bulb, I dare you to try it!”
“We often enjoy a risotto and as a rule I make them up as I go along, beginning with the classic onion, garlic and olive oil base, followed by rice, white wine and stock. So I need to remind myself each time I make this to follow the recipe, as it begins quite differently!”
The House and Garden at Glenmore is an illustrated book that traces Robertson and her husband’s restoration of an historic property in country New South Wales and their development of an organic-biodynamic kitchen garden, including recipes inspired by its produce.
Fennel and Lemon Risotto
1.5 litres (6 cups) home-made chicken stock
500g fennel bulbs, trimmed
75g unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
500g arborio rice
Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
75g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons torn mint leaves, parsley or both
Olive oil, to taste
Pour the chicken stock into a pan and keep at a simmer.
Remove the hard external leaves of the fennel, as well as the green stalk and fronds, so you’re left with the tender, white fennel hearts and slice them thinly and evenly. (If you like a very strong flavour of fennel, add the washed, discarded parts of the vegetable to the stock as it simmers.)
Melt half the butter in a large saucepan, add the fennel and onion and gently sweat over medium heat (I find it helps to add a lid), stirring regularly to make sure they don’t catch, until the fennel is tender.
Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the lemon juice and stir again. Season with a good pinch of sea salt and several twists of black pepper, stir, then begin adding the stock gradually, a ladle at a time. Stir well after each addition and allow the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more.
Keep stirring and adding stock until the rice is creamy and cooked, although the grains should remain firm in the centre.
When you reach this stage, stir in the rest of the butter, the lemon zest and parmesan. Cover and take off the heat.
Leave to rest for a few minutes before giving a final stir. Scatter with the herbs and round it all off with an extra drizzle of olive oil.
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