Risotto Balls With Leek, Thyme And Fennel Seeds

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Southern French cuisine is renowned for its inimitable blend of rustic ingredients and elegant presentations, tried-and-true technique, effortless inventiveness and above all, deliciousness. British chef, author and caterer Nina Parker has a rock-solid foundation in all things French cooking, and her new recipe collection, The South of France Cookbook, is a testament and love letter to the regional cuisine you can indeed re-create in your kitchen at home.

Reprinted with permission from The South of France Cookbook

Risotto Balls With Leek, Thyme And Fennel Seeds
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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 cups Hot vegetable stock
  • 1 leek
  • Small bunch fresh thyme
  • 5 ounces Pecorino cheese
  • 1 free-range large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and onion and cook gently until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for about 2 minutes. Pour in the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon. Make sure
 the rice is coated in the onions, garlic and fennel seeds, then increase the heat and add the white wine. Stir the rice for
 3 minutes, letting it soak up all the alcohol.
  2. Ladle in a few spoonfuls of vegetable stock and stir continuously for 10 minutes, then add the leek and more stock and continue to cook, stirring. Continue adding more stock every few minutes; after 15-20 minutes the rice should be tender but still have a bit of bite. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves (reserve some for serving) and cheese, season with salt and pepper and add more stock if needed. Leave to cool completely.
  3. Whisk the egg lightly with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a bowl and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the risotto into golf ball–sized balls and place on the sheet pan. Dip each one in the egg, letting any excess drip off, then coat them in the flour. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and fry the risotto balls in batches, turning regularly, until golden and evenly crisp. Serve with a sprinkling of salt, black pepper and more fresh thyme, with lemon wedges to squeeze over them.
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