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The Last Risotto I’ll Ever Make September 9, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food.

OK, so maybe that’s a little dramatic.  But try to look at it from my point of view.  Growing up, I had never even heard of risotto (nobody had ever really heard of it in the midwest in the 1970s), and when I finally did hear of it, I heard how much WORK it was. Standing over a stove, constantly stirring.  For HOURS.

Eventually, I did make risotto, and I found it to be not so much work after all.  Sure, there’s stirring involved – but not the Constant Stirring For Hours that I expected.  Twenty minutes of just stirring often, and we’re done.

PhotobucketThen I found the recipe for Fennel & Sausage Risotto and decided to try it.  After all, I love fennel!  And Peeps loves making sausage . . . so all we needed was the rice and a little time, right?

We of course start with our mis en place – we start with a bulb of fennel, chopped.  If you happen to see fennel at a farmer’s market cheap, be sure to pick some up – I got some nice bulbs for $1 each.  The supermarket currently stocks them at $2.49 a pound, or about $3 each.  They freeze nicely, so feel free to stock up!

Of course, I’m not the only one in the house who loves fennel. Oh no.

PhotobucketFunny story.  The first time I brought a bunch of fennel home from the market, I got something like 3 HUGE bulbs, and they hadn’t been trimmed at all – there were fronds sticking out of the bag and our Jarly Boy HAD to have some.

He stuck his nose on that bag of fennel and refused to leave it until we gave him some.

He still does that, every single time I buy fennel.  He loves it.  We get no peace until he’s had his fennel fronds.  Crazy, huh?

So anyway, here’s what you’re going to need:

  • 1 bulb fresh (or frozen) fennel, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • about a pound of Italian sausage
  • 5½ cups chicken stock, heated we just dump a quart of stock in a glass measuring cup and nuke it until it’s hot – beyond that, we pretty much use it at room temperature
  • 1½ cup arborio rice
  • a pinch of saffron threads only if you have them easily available – I’m not really sure they make that big a difference
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • a bit of chopped fresh parsley if you remember
  • Some olive oil – about 1/4 cup or so


We’re going to actually use two pans, even though this is supposed to be a “one-pan meal.”  In a sauté pan, brown your sausage, breaking it up with a spoon, and adding a bit of olive oil as needed.  Cook until browned, about 5-10 minutes.

Once the sausage is browned, go ahead and add the chopped fennel bulb, and cook until it’s browned, about another 5-10 minutes.  Then set aside.

PhotobucketSo we’ve got the sausage and fennel cooked, and a quart of stock heated, with another pint or so on standby . . . now we’re going to heat some more oil in a good-sized saucepan and saute our onion, seasoned with salt and pepper (of course).   Cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes or so.  Now we’ll add the arborio rice and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly to make sure each grain of rice is coated with oil.  Crumble the saffron and add it, then the white wine and stir well until the wine is absorbed.


Now we just coast.  Add a cup or so of chicken stock, cook over low heat, stirring reasonably often (stirring constantly really isn’t necessary – stirring “often” is plenty) until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Continue adding the stock a half cup at a time and stirring until absorbed until the rice achieves a state of al dente – and it appears suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 20 minutes altogether.


Now you’re going to want to stir in the sausage – fennel mixture and a half cup of finely shredded romano cheese.

Mmmm . . . cheese.  Have I mentioned that I was raised in Wisconsin?

The Dairy State?

I love cheese.

Once you’ve stirred in the sausage and fennel – and the cheese – just a Tablespoon or so of butter (the Brits call it a “knob” which, I think, is far more descriptive), and stir until it’s all combined.


And there you go – we served the risotto with soft dinner rolls brushed with butter and baked with fresh herbs . . .

The addition of the fresh fennel makes the sausage taste more . . . sausage-y – and by chopping it rather than slicing it, I can still enjoy the flavor I love, and Peeps isn’t distracted by the texture.  We use homemade sausage which is probably a little more spicy than the “mild Italian sausage” called for in the original recipe, but that’s OK – we like it like that.

Why look any further when we’ve found something that suits us both so perfectly?



1. The Dog Swimmerer - September 9, 2009

Sounds Divine!
Thanks so much for this
LOL..Hope it was not too much Trouble

– Of course it’s no trouble at all! And you guys will enjoy it, I’m sure. Let me know what you think.

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