Monday, June 19, 2006

Authentic Italian Risotto with Chicken

I love trying new recipes... especially if they seem like old favorites. Risotto is one of those mouth-watering comfort foods that you just have to love. It's like a glorified chicken and rice dish that is all grown up. It may not be that pretty, but hardly a grain is left in the pan after everyone fights for the last spoonful. My friend Ammie (who's husband is from Italy) made this the last time we visited her. I called her up craving it and she graciously gave me her recipe. We made it... and it turned out beautifully. I thought I would share her authentic Italian recipe with you!

This risotto recipe is with chicken, a bit of rosemary, a dash of garlic salt and white wine. However, there are as many risotto recipes as there are American recipes for Thanksgiving Turkey. I plan to cook it with mushrooms next... but my family prefers the chicken.

It's important that you follow Ammie's steps, because Risotto is a dish that requires a lot of babysitting. Read them all below before you begin. I took the liberty of adding the ingredient amounts (because Ammie doesn't measure), and they fit our four person family just perfectly. You'll have to adjust it if you have more people to feed.

1 cup Risotto Rice
(best to use the genuine thing, however, if you MUST substitute, use short grain - never long or parboiled)
Olive Oil
1 Quart plus 1 14 oz Can of Chicken Broth
(plus a few tablespoons of water - optional)
Onion (1/2 or small)
1 Fully cooked Rotisserie Chicken
(or pan-fried tenders lightly seasoned with Rosemary, Garlic Salt and Pepper)
2/3 cup Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese (no powder!)
1/4 Cup whole or 2% Milk
1-2 Tablespoons of Butter
1/4 Cup Dry White Cooking Wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1 - Put your chicken broth and water on the stove to boil (heat to hot). You can't use cold broth or the rice will take too long to cook and be mushy. You'll need a ladle or measuring cup to scoop and put broth in pan later. Chop your onion.

Step 2 - Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil and the butter in a large skillet (cast iron works well, but any will do) and add your onion. Sauté until slightly tender and add rice. Coat rice well with oil and let sizzle and toast well.

Step 3 - Pour your white wine in and stir well. Pour two ladles (about 1.5-2 cups) of HOT chicken broth into pan and stir rice well. The point is to keep the rice moist with broth, cooking it over medium-high heat and put another ladle of broth in just as the previous ladle is cooking out. Never let the rice dry out or burn, but don't smother it with liquid, either. You don't use a lid to cook this rice, and it takes about 30 minutes from the time you first start putting liquid on the rice until it is completely finished. The final result will be a creamy (but not mushy) rice mixture. You'll need to be available to stir often, especially right after you spoon the broth in. There's about 5-8 minutes in-between ladles depending on your stove; which is plenty of time to make a salad or other green vegetable on the side. You can also fry and tear up your chicken or pick it off the rotisserie bone and prepare it to toss into the rice.

Step 4 - Toss chicken in with rice when it is almost finished cooking.

Step 5 - When you are down to your last 1/4 cup of broth and the rice is done, pour that in and turn the stove off - leaving the pan on the heat. Add in your milk and about 3/4 cup parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste and stir well.

Step 6 - Enjoy!

Goes well with peas, green beans, salad, and crusty bread.

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