sometimes those big traditional Sunday roasts are just too much to deal with, especially if it’s just you… but I still want something packed with flavour and not too tricky to make… it is Sunday after-all and I don’t want to slave away at the stove.
My Auntie Jeannie made a version of this for me and The Viking when we visited her and lovely James at her beautiful house in France. It seemed to be one of those dishes that simply melted into existence, took moments to make, yet packed a punch of flavour and aroma and tasted as though it had taken an age to create. The Pernod adds a wonderful aniseed hit to the dish adding a depth that the fennel alone wouldn’t give. I guess this dish will always remind me of that wonderful May holiday… I remember it was weather like we’re having now.. some sun and some cloud. Hot when you’re outside but we needed a fire and a blanket, playing scrabble in the evenings… glorious!
We’d spent that particular day wine tasting… something that The Viking didn’t really care very much for, in fact there was an embarrassing moment when, noticing The V’s face, the chateau owner even asked him if he’d prefer a beer!
We then came back to the house and Jeannie brought out a plate of incredible local cheeses, a selection that went from mild through to blow your socks off! The wine we had bought was opened and James totally dispelled the myth of wine snobbery for The Viking… (we all got very drunk!)
Jeannie didn’t put peas into her risotto but I think they seem to lift the dish and add a wonderful splash of colour.
butter and olive oil
1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 medium fennel – finely sliced
1 cup full of peas
a good risotto rice (arborio works fine) – see the package for per person measurements…
a splash of Pernod
a glass of white white
freshly grated parmesan
Heat some butter and olive oil in a large deep pan, saute the onions for 5 mins and then add the fennel and saute until both are soft and translucent.
Next add the rice and stir it all together letting the rice soak up all the juices.
Now add the white wine and let that soak into the rice, then add a splash of Pernod.
Once this has soaked in start adding the stock ladle full at a time, each time stir the risotto until the liquid has reduced… this may seem laborious but in-fact I love this bit… the rice turns really creamy and there’s something calming about the whole process… and it really doesn’t take long.
Keep going, tasting as you go, and once the rice is al dente, throw in the peas and give them another minute, then taste again and if the rice gives, you know that it is ready.
In my opinion the dish should not be dry, the rice should be floating in a creamy soup… at this point you add the grated cheese.. I like tonnes of this but you can add as much or little as you like… stir it in and serve immediately.
The aniseed aroma that rises from this pot will make your mouth water and hopefully hit that Sunday feeding frenzy spot!
eat and of course, enjoy!