Chicken Risotto

August 29, 2014 - Weekend Cooking
Chicken Risotto

Risotto generally scares home cooks away because of its’ well deserved reputation of being a high maintenance dish to create.  It really does require a lot of stirring, but is stirring really that difficult when what you are creating is so creamy and satisfying?  I do all of the prep work ahead of time and surround myself with measured ingredients before I put heat under the rice so I can stick close to the pot to stir constantly (enlist a helper so you can take breaks).

This is a great dish to use your leftover roasted chicken, or just heat chicken breasts like I show here.  The subtle wine and Parmesan flavors combined with the cream texture make it a sophisticated meal for a date night, while the overall texture makes it perfect for the youngest of food eaters.  This can be a vehicle to trick kids into eating their peas, everything soaks up the wonderful flavors including the peas.  The hardest part (as long as you prep ahead as advised – I am pretty sure that when I give verbal advice I slip into Russian or something by the behavior of my kids…hopefully written advice is different) is to know for sure if it is ready to serve, you can tell by trying a grain of the rice and make sure it doesn’t have much of a bite to it and you will know it is ready.

Ingredient List: 

6 cups homemade or store bought chicken stock

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion

1 ½ cups Arborio rice (10 ½ oz)

¾ cup crisp dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio (6 oz)

2 cups bite-sized pieces of cooked chicken (1 package of two large boneless, skinless breasts should be the right amount)

1 cup cooked frozen baby sweet peas

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh Italian parsley (the flat leaf one) if you want to garnish

First prepare the chicken.  Take some boneless breasts of chicken and just brown them on each side in a pan with olive oil, lightly seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.  Make sure they are cooked all the way through and then let cool.  Once cooled, cut up the chicken and put aside in a bowl for later.

Tip:  To make the breasts cook quicker cut them the long wise like you are butterflying the breasts, but cut all the way through to make 4 thin portions from the 2 thick breasts.  Then pound them a bit with a meat mallet.

Cook the baby peas in the microwave according to the directions on the box but shave off 2 minutes from the cooking time, and then put cooked peas aside in another bowl.

Using a box grater or micro plane grate the Parmesan cheese (yup you guessed it) and put it in another bowl or plate for later.  Finely chop the onion and put them aside as well.

For the liquid ingredients, measure out the stock and the wine and then you are ready to get started.

Now it is all about stirring, and is quite easy from here on out, but make sure you can stick next to the stove for a while.

Put the stock in a large saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil and then reduce it to a very low heat just to keep it warm.  Melt the butter in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven on medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened (3 minutes or so).  Add the rice and cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes (until the rice is opaque).  Pour in the wine and stir and cook until the wine is almost completely absorbed.

Stir in a ladle full of the stock, or enough to cover the rice barely.  Continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until nearly all the liquid is absorbed.  Keep adding stock by the ladle full and cooking until almost absorbed for about 20-25 minutes.  You will know you are done when the rice is tender but still firm to the touch.  If you run out of stock then use hot water.  During the last 3 minutes, stir in the chicken and peas to heat through.

Stirring is good for the soul!

Stirring is good for the soul!

When the rice is just cooked, make a final addition of about 2/3 cup of stock or hot water so that the risotto is a creamy consistency.  Remove from the heat, stir in 2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon into shallow soup bowls, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese and parsley and serve immediately.  Makes 4 main course servings or 6-8 first course servings.

This stands alone as a complete dinner, but you can accompany with something crunchy like a salad or some nice crusty bread.

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