An aromatic risotto with a vermouth bite

Summer Times presents a selection of chef Bevan Smith's favourite summer recipes from Riverstone Kitchen, the Otago Daily Times fresh column.

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files

Crab and fennel risotto

Serves 4


30ml olive oil
20g butter
½ red onion, finely chopped
Centre of 1 bunch celery, finely chopped
2 medium or 1 large fennel bulb, finely shaved
250g risotto rice
80ml Noilly Prat vermouth or 150ml dry white wine
500ml chicken or vegetable stock, heated and lightly seasoned, warmed
Crab meat picked from 6 large paddle crabs
40g parmesan, shaved
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup fennel leaf, chopped
Salt and pepper
1½ cups baby rocket leaves (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil


Heat olive oil and half the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat.

Add vegetables and sweat without colour until soft and translucent, stirring often.

Add risotto rice and cook for 1 minute before adding Noilly Prat. Continue to stir frequently and once rice has absorbed the alcohol, add warm stock, in small amounts, stirring between each addition.

After 10 to 15 minutes, test rice by biting into a few grains. When it has almost lost its crunch it is nearly ready.

Fold in crab meat, remaining butter, half the parmesan, lemon juice and herbs and season to taste.

Risotto should be fairly wet with the rice coated in the liquor. Add a little more stock if necessary.

Divide between four plates and top with remaining parmesan and rocket.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

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