Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

I haven't done a food post in quite some time. Sometimes cooking and photographing along the way can be a pain... or even disastrous! But today I bring you a classic dish that I finally learned to make, thanks to my dear friend Lindsay.

Lindsay and Rob are another American/British couple that Joe and I have met here in Napier, New Zealand. Last week was their last week in Napier before moving back to the states to get hitched. For our "last supper", Lindsay offered to cook her famous risotto. Risotto is probably one of my favorite dishes. It's one that I always order at restaurants because I have no idea how to make it.

In reality, it's a pretty simple dish to make. It just takes a bit of time and babysitting. In my opinion, it's the perfect dish for entertaining friends. Relax, enjoy a glass of wine, chat, and take turns stirring the pot. (And for those of you with a gluten allergy, risotto is gluten free!)

Well I enjoyed Lindsay's dish so much, I had it again for breakfast the next morning and attempted to cook it again this week. (I tend to overdo things a bit when I really like something.) But since I didn't have her secret recipe, I did a bit from memory and a bit of googling to experiment with my own spin on chicken & mushroom risotto.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pack of risotto
  • 2-3 cups of chicken broth
  • white wine
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 leek
  • mushrooms (pick your favorite)
  • 1-2 chicken breasts
  • fresh thyme
  • 1/4 slice of lemon
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • sea salt
  • crushed pepper
  • a bit of truffle olive oil to top it off

Directions

1. Boil a pot of water. Salt the water and add the chicken breasts. Boil for 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and can be easily pulled apart.

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2. Chop the onion and leek. I put mine in a food processor to chop them super fine.

Heat a big dollop of olive oil a large pot on medium. Add your chopped onions and stir letting them sweat for about 10 minutes.

3. Chop your mushrooms. I picked up some fresh portobello mushrooms from the farmers market and chopped them pretty small so you get a bit of mushroom in every bite.

If you love mushrooms (like me), here's a Jamie Oliver trick I learned to add even more of that flavor to your dish... heat a bit of chicken stock in a saucepan and let it simmer. Add your chopped mushrooms to the saucepan and let them simmer for a few minutes. Then remove the mushrooms and reserve the stock for later.

4. Next add your dry risotto rice to the onions and leeks that you've been sweating and stirring. Turn up the heat a bit and stir the rice around. Then add a splash of white wine and keep stirring.

5. Now turn down the heat a little (to about medium, but make sure you don't burn the bottom) and add the stock you've saved from the mushrooms and stir. I didn't really measure the stock. I just kept some on hand and added it to the rice as needed. You want about enough to slightly cover the rice. Keep stirring and massaging the rice constantly and then added a little more broth once it's been absorbed, until the rice is soft. This will take about 30 minutes (and is another reason why it's nice to have a glass of wine and a friend on hand to keep you entertained and help you stir!)

6. Separately, add those chopped mushrooms from earlier to a hot griddle. Add a bit of lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt, and some chopped thyme, and grill until the mushrooms are soft.

7. Remove your chicken from the boiling water. Let it cool and then shred it.

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Add the shredded chicken and the mushrooms you've just grilled to the risotto and keep stirring. (You don't have to add chicken to this recipe, but if you're feeding boys, you'll probably want to!) Check your risotto for flavor, if everything is tasting OK, take it off the heat, mix in your Parmasean and let it sit for about 3 minutes.

8. Finally, serve your risotto and drizzle with a bit of truffle olive oil for a finishing touch.

Whether you're vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, you can substitute some of these ingredients (vegetable stock and no chicken) to create a yummy and hardy meal that makes enough to feed a crowd or enjoy left overs for days. It will definitely become one of my staples!