crab risotto with braised fennel

White crab meat is a British delicacy. It can easily be overpowered and is best paired with subtle, light ingredients that can provide relief from the robust and powerful flavours of autumn.

serves 2

1 fennel bulb
olive oil
lemon, quartered
I clove of garlic, bashed
4 shallots, peeled and finely diced
45g butter
tsp salt
650ml vegetable stock
200g arborio rice
150ml white wine
100g crème fraîche
100g picked white crab neat

Heat the oven to 200C fan (220C non-fan).

Cut the fennel in half, from top to bottom. Peel off the tough outer layer (if the bulb is young and tender, you can leave this layer on). Lay the halves flat and cut out the root, leaving enough to keep the fennel intact, then cut each half lengthways into four wedges. Keep any fronds.

Place six wedges of fennel in a roasting tray with 100ml water, a pinch of salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, the lemon and garlic, cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the fennel pieces over and cook for a further 10-15 mins or until they are tender and cooked through.

Finely dice the remaining two pieces of the fennel and the shallots. Set a heavy-bottomed medium pan over a low heat and add the butter, shallots, fennel and salt. Stir together, cover and cook for 15 mins or until the vegetables are soft and without colour.

Meanwhile heat the stock in another pan, sieving if necessary to remove any bits of carrot.

Stir the rice through the fennel and shallot mix, coating it in the butter, for 5-8 minutes until each grain starts to become slightly translucent. Add the wine, stirring until it has cooked out and the grains of rice begin to soften. Continue to stir constantly over a low heat and add a ladle at a time of hot stock, adding another as the rice absorbs it. Continue until the rice is creamy and cooked al dente. Remove from the heat and stir through the crème fraîche.

Spoon the risotto into shallow bowls, top with the fennel, fennel fronds and the white crab meat.