Fennel and Sausage Risotto
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, meat crumbled
- 1 large fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced
- 5 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (time to use that stock you just made!!)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice (10 ounces)
- Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook over high heat, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes longer. Cover and keep warm.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer; keep warm.
- In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, for 1 minute stirring constantly to thoroughly coat it with the fat. Crumble the saffron into the wine and add it to the rice. Cook, stirring until the wine is absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The risotto is done when the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 20 minutes total. Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Stir in the sausage and fennel along with the cheese, butter and parsley. Serve immediately.
By Grace Parisi, Food and Wine