I’ve been thinking about making Fennel Risotto for quite a while now, but I felt it needed something just a little bit more to make it special. I thought of mixing in some crab, which would have been delicious but when I saw some nice fat tubes of squid for sale in the fishmongers, I knew that would be the perfect combination. Usually I do squid with Risotto Nero, blackened with the ink from the squid, but I think this makes a nice, more summery variation.
Grilled Squid with Fennel and Saffron Risotto
4 fat tubes of squid
2 bulbs of fennel
200g risotto rice
200mls white wine
1 litre hot stock (can use good quality stock cubes such as kello)
1 tsp ground fennel seeds
Pinch chilli flakes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Remove any tough outside leaves or stalks from the fennel. Save any fronds for a garnish. Cut the fennel in half and slice thinly. Melt ¾ the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the fennel and a good pinch of salt and gently fry without colour until softened for about 10 minutes. Add the rice and cook for a minute more and then add the wine. Keep stirring. It is banging the grains of rice together which releases the starch which makes your risotto creamy. Add the fennel to the hot stock and gradually start to add the stock a ladleful at a time. When the liquid has just about been absorbed, add another ladleful of stock. Keep cooking like this for 20-25 mins until the rice is chewy but not chalky. Add the fennel seeds and chilli, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and check for seasoning. Add the rest of the butter but do not stir, and leave to sit covered for a minute or two. Heat a griddle or BBQ until smoking hot. Cut through one side of the squid and open out flat. Season and brush with olive oil. Grill first on one side and then the other. The squid should curl up when cooked. Give the risotto a final stir and serve with the squid and any chopped fennel fronds you may have.