05 November 2013

Foodie Tuesday | Chicken & Pea Risotto

If you want an amazing recipe that

  • is low in fat...
  • is low in sodium...
  • will help you fit into your skinny jeans...

this is not the droid recipe you're looking for.

If, on the other hand, you want an amazing recipe that is a rich-and-creamy, once-in-a-blue-moon treat and freaking delicious, this IS the recipe you're looking for!

I'm sure there are ways to make this risotto a smidge -- or a ton -- healthier, but I sort of feel like making it healthy would suck all the fun out of it. It would defeat the purpose (which is, of course, complete and total indulgence.) And unless your ultimate goal is to be air-lifted by a crane through a blown-out wall in your house or you've got spare arteries hanging around just collecting dust, this isn't an everyday meal. Keep it for special occasions like a rare quiet evening at home, when it's just perfect.

Finally, I should mention that this risotto does NOT freeze well so I don't recommend trying it. Better to eat it all within 2 to 3 days of preparation. And realistically speaking, it's not meant to be a meal unto itself. You should probably eat it as a side with something else; that "something else" should probably be mostly vegetables. I never do but you know.... I feel like I should say it anyway. Consider it a PSA.

At the end of the day, though, do whatever you want... and if what you want is a whole bowlful of this deliciousness, you'll find no judgement here!

Preparation: 20 minutes | Cooking Time: 1 hour | Serves: 12 cups

  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion
  • 4 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes (we use Knorr)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups white wine* (we use a Riesling but for a milder taste, try Chardonnay)
  • 8 cups boiled water
  • 3-4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 3 cups + 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cooking Directions:
  1. Shred chicken, finely dice onion and strip thyme leaves from their stems.
    Stripping thyme leaves is the worst task ~ I hate it. Takes forever and is so nit-picky, but the flavour is out of this world. If you don't have fresh thyme (or don't want to spend the time plucking teeny-tiny leaves off of teeny-tiny stems) you can substitute 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp of dried thyme instead.
  2. Boil water in the kettle.
  3. Melt butter and olive oil in a heavy-potted soup pot on medium high heat.
  4. When butter is sizzling but not browned, add onion, garlic and thyme. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent (about 8-10 minutes).
  5. Add the Arborio rice to the pot, and stir well to coat with butter. Cook for two minutes until the rice kernels start to "snap" in the heat.
  6. Dissolve chicken bouillon cubes into rice mixture, then add pepper and wine. Stir regularly until liquid is absorbed.
    If there isn't enough butter in the pan to dissolve the bouillon, add half a cup of boiled water to the mixture to loosen it up.
  7. Begin adding boiled water 2 cups at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Stir constantly to ensure even absorption and to avoid scalding. Cook until rice is tender and risotto is creamy.
  8. Stir in chicken and peas; cook 2 minutes or until peas are heated through. 
  9. Remove from heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve hot topped with more shredded Parmesan and cracked black pepper. 

*The wine flavour in this dish is quite pronounced, and not for everyone. You can manage the strength by substituting some (or all) of the wine for additional water/stock. If you decide to replace the wine altogether, I would suggest adding a fourth bouillon cube. Otherwise, that extra two cups of water will dilute the other flavours too much and then you'll just end up with white rice-paste, and nobody wants that.

If you can make yourself wait (I never can) it's even better the next day. Leftovers don't last long in our house, and I'll bet they won't in yours either!

Notes: one-pot-wonder