I wish I was an Italian. I think I would make a good Italian housewife, standing stove-side for the day conjuring up delicious recipes whilst my husband whizzes around the city on a Lambretta. See, this is what happens when I make a risotto and my mind has time to wander whilst I stir, calmly and serenely. I never used to like risotto, thinking it was bland and boring with every mouthful tasting the same. Whilst true that every mouthful does taste the same, it’s a good thing as the flavours are in no way bland and if made and seasoned correctly a risotto can be a thing of beauty. A steaming bowl of creamy, buttery rice is the epitome of comfort food and will make any woes disappear. Apart from any woes regarding your weight, this isn’t really gonna help in that department but who cares?
What you need:
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 tsp olive oil
- A large knob of butter, about 50g
- 6 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 leek, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup of arborio rice
- 1 cup of white wine
- 750ml chicken stock
- 1 lemon
- a handful of grated parmesan cheese
What you do:
- Start by roasting the chicken breasts. Pop them into a roasting tray with 1 tsp of the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper and cook them in an oven pre-heated to around 180°c for around 20 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Heat the other tsp of olive oil in a heavy based pan or casserole dish along with half of the butter. Once hot, add in your sliced mushrooms, leek and garlic and cook until the vegetables have softened. You don’t want any crunch in this risotto, everything needs to be meltingly soft.
- Once the vegetables are soft, add in a cup of arborio rice. I used an American cup measure, but you can use a coffee cup or similar. Measurements are not particularly important here. Stir the rice through the buttery vegetables for a couple of minutes to start the cooking process, then add in your cup of wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Now the part that I love, the constant stirring. Adding the stock a ladleful at a time, keep stirring the rice to allow the startch to be released. This is why you need to use arborio rice as regular rice will never create the same creamy texture. Don’t add the next batch of stock until the previous has been absorbed. The whole process should take around 20 minutes, you may need less stock, you may need more. You need to be intuitive and keep testing the rice to see when it is cooked. When you reach the stage where it looks perfect, shred in the roasted chicken, add the zest from half a lemon and the juice from both halves, the rest of the butter and a handful of parmesan. Add a little extra stock and stir gently with the heat turned off until you achieve a creamy texture with no wateriness.
- Season the risotto carefully and serve in bowls with a little extra parmesan on top.
Comfort in a bowl, Italian style.