I find myself making risotto when I don’t know what else to make. It’s essentially a one pot meal, easy for clean up on weeknights. Plus there is nothing more delicious than risotto. Warm, creamy, and wonderful for cooler nights as well. I’ve played around many a time – even making a southwestern risotto on a clean-out-the-fridge night. Last night I craved something a little more traditional. I first tried this recipe in college. It was my first time buying fennel and of course the typical grocers didn’t have it. I had to go to the Flagstaff version of Whole Foods, where I was very impressed that the cashier not only knew what fennel was but actually knew the code for it without searching through a handbook. If you’ve never had fennel, it is sometimes called anise, which most of us associate with licorice flavors. Or Jager flavors, if your Casey. While it’s not Jagermeister flavored risotto, the anise adds a spiciness it would otherwise not have.
Asparagus, Fennel, and Sausage Risotto
1 lbs crumbled sweet Italian sausage
4 cups vegetable stock, warmed on the stove
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 lbs asparagus, roasted slightly in the oven
1 small onion, finely chopped
pinch of saffron threads
1 cup arborio rice
1/c cup white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a skillet, cook the sausage in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium to high head until browned. Remove from pan. Add the onion and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Saute for 3 minutes then add the thinly sliced fennel bulb and cook until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the arborio rice, toasting slightly. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the cup of white wine and cook over medium heat, until absorbed by the rice. Then add the vegetable stock, one ladle at a time, allowing the the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. Continue to add liquid in this fashion until the rice has plumped up and is not longer crispy when tasted.
Chop of the roasted asparagus and add to the risotto mixture. Add the previously cook sausage. Let the flavors sit together over low to medium heat. Stir occasionally. Serve and top with grated Parmesan and fresh chopped parsley.