1.25 litres(5 cups) chicken stock1 tbspextra-virgin olive oil20 gmbutter1fennel bulb, finely diced, fronds coarsely chopped½onion, finely chopped1garlic clove, finely chopped250 gmarborio rice100 mlPernod50 mldry white wine1 tbsplemon juice1lemon, finely grated rind only130 gmFontina (see note), cut into 1cm cubesFor dusting:seasoned flour2eggs, lightly beaten 200 gmfine breadcrumbs from soft white breadFor deep frying:vegetable oilTo serve:lemon wedges
Bring stock to a very low simmer in a saucepan. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add fennel bulb, onion and garlic and stir occasionally until soft and transulcent (7-10 minutes). Add rice, stir frequently to toast and coat in oil (3-4 minutes), add Pernod and wine and stir frequently until evaporated (1-2 minutes). Add stock one ladleful at a time, stirring and adding more stock as it’s absorbed, until all stock is used and rice is creamy and just cooked through (25-30 minutes). Remove from heat, stir through lemon juice and rind, and season to taste. Pour onto a large baking tray, cool, then refrigerate until completely chilled (20-30 minutes).
Stir fennel fronds through risotto, then roll mixture into walnut-sized balls, inserting a cube of Fontina inside each one. Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Roll risotto balls in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs to coat, shaking off excess. Transfer to a baking paper-lined tray, then repeat with remaining balls. Preheat vegetable oil in a deep fryer to 190C. Deep-fry balls in batches until golden (1-2 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper, season to taste and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Note Fontina is a semi-mature Italian cow's
milk cheese, available from Italian delicatessens.