“Both comforting and luxurious, using a decent, drinking Barolo in this beautiful ruby risotto not only adds a lovely pink hue, but boldly brings the sweetness of the veg and the salty savouriness of the sausage together. With Parmesan, bombs of fontina and crunchy hazelnuts in the mix, it’s an undeniably satisfying bowlful. ”
Simmer your chosen stock. Put a large, high-sided pan on a medium heat and toast the hazelnuts as it heats up. Meanwhile, peel the onion, trim the fennel and finely chop both. Tip the hazelnuts into a pestle and mortar, returning the pan to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 knob of butter, followed by the chopped veg, then strip in the thyme leaves (reserving the soft tips for garnish). Squeeze the sausagemeat out of the skins into the pan, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in the rice to toast. After 2 minutes, pour in the wine and stir until absorbed.
Now start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, letting each one cook away before adding more, and stirring constantly for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still retains its shape. When done, add a splash of stock or water to make it oozy, then finely grate over most of the Parmesan, beat it in with the remaining butter, taste, and season to perfection. Turn the heat off, then bomb in little nuggets of fontina, so they melt subtly into the rice. Cover, and leave to rest off the heat for 2 minutes while you crush the nuts. Divide the risotto between warm plates, then finely grate over the remaining Parmesan. Sprinkle over the crushed nuts and thyme tips, then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.