Sunday, 14 September 2008

Root Awakenings

Cooking creatively can be challenging at times. I find I get most inspired in people's homes because I will often find ingredients I don't normally have at home or even in a professional kitchen. I even get much of my inspiration walking through markets and grocery stores.

Fennel is a vegetable that I don't normally have at home because I simply never purchase it. When was the last time you purchased fennel? Or parsnips? Turnip? Rutabaga? It simply rarely goes on most people's grocery lists because we never think of it. Yet these vegetables are easy to cook, easy on the wallet and probably healthier than most things on your grocery list.

I've learned recently that many root vegetables were considered good for feeding pigs. I wonder if this is because blandness of the vegetable or cost?

In a previous post, I have explained the risotto process in more detail. The risotto cooking method should be the same every time, but what you add is what makes it unique and yours.

Sausage and Shrimp with Fennel Risotto

3 Sweet Italian Sausages
16 Shrimp, deveined
250 g Arborio Rice
3 Red Bell Peppers
3 garlic cloves, crushed
A Few Chili Flakes
1 Fennel Bulb, finely diced
1 Red Onoin, finely diced
1 Green Onion, chopped
1 l Chicken Broth
100 ml Sambuca or Ouzo
50 g Marmalade Preserve
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Juice of 2 Lemons
200 g Parmigiana Reggiano Cheese, grated
100 g Butter
Season and Pepper to Taste

Combine marmalade, 1 clove of garlic, chili flakes, lemon juice and olive oil. Marinate shrimp in mixture in fridge for 1 hour.

In a sauce pan, heat chicken broth to a boil then bring to a simmer. Poach sausages for 2 minutes and let cool.

In a sauté pan, heat up drizzle of olive oil. Sauté onion and fennel until lightly brown. 1 minute. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add rice and sauté until translucent, about 1 minute. Deglaze with Sambuca and let reduce by half. Add ladle of broth and stir. As broth evaporates, add more broth by the ladle and stir constantly.

Meanwhile, coat red peppers in oil and char the skin on open flame (BBQ, burner or with a kitchen torch) and place in a bowl and cover. Let steam through for ten minutes. Open and let cool. Once cooled, shed skin, remove seeds and innards and chop up the flesh. In a frying pan, sauté peppers, green onion, and clove of garlic. Add a ladle of broth. Bring to boil and purée.

For the sauage, cut lengthwise, then in half moons and a bias. In a frying pan, heat drizzle of oil. Add sausage and shrimp with the marinate. Cook for two minutes.

As risotto finishes cooking (all your broth should be used up) add butter and cheese and stir. Add seasonings.

In a bowl, pour risotto, ladle pepper purée overtop and garnish with sausage and shrimp.

Serves 4 - 6.

A Humble Chef's tip: check the doneness of the rice before adding the cheese and butter.

Variation: Omit the fennel and through some other onion related veg, like leek or something. Not everybody likes the black licorice flavour fennel has. If you don't like Ouzo, go with Vodka.


Anonymous said...

I have a convection oven, but never know when to use convection and when to not use convection - could you do a post explaining it? Thanks!

Mary Moreau said...

I often buy fennel - it is simply a marvelous veg. It can be pureed in soup, roasted or braised or shaved raw in a salad with pears, blue cheese and walnuts. Yum.