4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 onion, minced
1 bulb fennel, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 c. Carnaroli or Arborio rice
¼ c. white wine
½ tsp. meyer lemon zest
¼ c. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated
8 oz. fresh Crescenza cheese, cut into ½” cubes
2 c. all-purpose flour
¼ c. milk
3 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Note: Crescenza cheese is a soft cow’s milk cheese made by Bellwhether Farms in Petaluma, CA. Substitute fresh mozzarella in its place if unavailable.
Pour the vegetable stock into a large saucepan and heat to a simmer on the back of the stove. Heat a wide-bottom pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, fennel and garlic in butter until soft. Stir in the rice and stir to coat. Add a few ladles of the broth and stir until the broth is absorbed by the rice. Add a few more ladles and continue stirring until the broth is absorbed. Continue stirring and adding broth until the rice is cooked but still firm, about 18-20 minutes. Add the wine and lemon zest during the last couple minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, and season to taste with salt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Scoop the risotto into balls with a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon. Flatten a ball in the palm of your hand. (It helps to rub your hands with a little olive oil to keep the risotto from sticking). Place a piece of crescenza in the center of the rice and enclose it in the risotto, then roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. For breading the risotto, place the flour in one stainless bowl, beat together the eggs and milk in another bowl and place the panko in a third bowl. Dip each risotto ball in the flour and roll to coat, dunk in the egg/milk mixture, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Fill a deep pot to a depth of 3 inches with the vegetable oil and heat to 350°F. Fry risotto balls in small batches until golden brown. Remove to plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining balls. Server while still hot.
Enjoy with a glass of Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay Reserve.