Orange Zest and Fennel Risotto

Risotto is one of my all-time favorite meals. It is simple, requires few ingredients, and is quite satisfying. While I have given tips about making a risotto in the past, there are only a few principles you need to adhere to to have success.

  1. Use Italian short-grain rice, like arborio rice.
  2. Constantly stir the pot.
  3. Add one ladle of broth to the pot and stir the pot until the broth absorbs into the rice. Repeat this process until all the broth is gone and the rice is cooked through.

If you do these three things, you’re on the right track. Cooking shows and some food publications would have you believe that making risotto is nearly impossible. It is not. It just requires the right ingredients, stirring and patience.

A few notes… If you have never zested an orange to make orange zest, this video breaks it down or you can use a microplane, if you have one. The saffron in this recipe is optional, but it does add a nice floral element to the flavor. It is still good without it, but is slightly enhanced with it. You decide!

Orange zest and fennel risotto

Orange Zest and Fennel Risotto

3 cups broth (fake chicken or vegetable – I used 1 1/2 Edward & Sons Not Chick’n Bouillon Cubes dissolved in 3 cups of water)

1 cup fennel bulb, finely chopped

1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 tsp fresh orange zest

Saffron, a very small pinch – optional (see note above)

1. Add broth to a medium saucepan, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. When it comes to a full boil, turn the burner off. You will use this broth later in the recipe.

Fennel, onions, garlic and olive oil in a pot

2. In a large pot, add the fennel, onion, garlic and olive oil. Sauté over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Then, stir in the rice and stir around for another minute.

Stirring the rice, so the wine absorbs

3. Add the wine to the pot. Stir the rice around over medium heat until the rice absorbs the wine.

Adding one ladle of broth, and stirring until it absorbs into the rice. Then, adding another ladle.

4. Add 1 ladle of the hot broth from the medium saucepan into the pot with the rice. Over medium heat, constantly stir the pot until 75% of the hot broth is absorbed by the rice. Add the orange zest and saffron (if using) to the pot. Then, add another ladle of the hot broth to the pot. Constantly stir the rice until 75% of the hot broth is absorbed. Continue this process until all the broth is gone. On the last ladle of broth, stir the rice until the broth is completely absorbed. Your rice should be creamy (not soupy).

5. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed (salt? more orange zest?). Serve.

Orange zest and fennel risotto

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