Chicken challenge, Round 2
April 10, 2016
Wherein we take the rest of the breast that I’d eaten sliced chicken off of, and the thigh meat from same, and make a chicken and asparagus risotto.
Because I haven’t made risotto in at least five years, and it was about time. Plus, chicken challenge.
For those of you who have not made risotto, it’s pretty simple, but labor-intensive. You need, for enough to serve 2-3 as a main or 4-5 as a side, the following:
- About 1 cup of short-grain rice. The canonical risotto rice is arborio, although bomba (cue maracas, “Ahhh, La BOM-ba!” Cue maracas again. Now you’ve got that in your head for days. You’re welcome.), which is generally seen in paella, will also work.
- 1/2 to 1 cup dry white wine. I got a little four-pack of Chardonnay last time I was at the liquor store because I don’t drink enough white wine to buy a regular bottle. I guess it was about 2/3 of a cup
- 3-4 cups chicken or other stock
- about 3 tbsp butter
- about 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 shallot, diced
- about 1 cup grated Parmigiano
- And whatever add-ins you want, in this case,
- 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
- 1 1/2 cups diced or shredded chicken
Making risotto is a lot like making pasta or fried rice; the starch serves as a vehicle in which to present veggies and, if you wish, meat. The simplest risotto has just mushrooms. I’ve done them with a mixture of garden veggies, for which, read, a collection of odds and ends I had in the fridge. Tonight, as I noted, it was chicken and asparagus.
I had a pound of asparagus that needed badly to be used, and I had the remains (STILL have the remaining remains) of that chicken. Good enough. I diced up about a cup and a half of chicken — a cup would have been plenty, but that was a good stopping point and got the asparagus ready to blanch. Diced up the shallot finely and sauteed it in a combo of 1 tbsp each butter and olive oil. Added the rice to the skillet and stirred it around until the grains were coated with oil and it started to smell toasty. Added the mini-bottle of wine, and let that cook down almost completely.
I had my stock simmering on the stove, and at that point, I commenced adding it. You add stock in three or four or five different additions, a ladle or two at a time, until you use it all and the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes. And, I might add, you stir it. A lot. Classic French cooks will tell you to stir it constantly; I don’t stir constantly, but I’m stirring more often than I’m not.
On your last addition of stock add the add-ins, which were the blanched asparagus I had waiting, and the diced chicken, along with the remaining butter and parmesan cheese. Stir until the last liquid is absorbed/cooked away, the rice is done, and the butter and cheese are melted and thoroughly incorporated into the sauce created from the dissolving of the outer starchy coats of the rice grains.
Properly done, risotto is a silky, luxurious dish, with subtle flavors. It tastes deceptively rich — with just 3 tbsp of butter, it’s really not.
This one was good. I seasoned it only with a bit of salt, some pepper and some herbs de Provence. And now my arm is tired from stirring. I suspect I shall see leftovers later this week for breakfast, with an over easy egg on top.
I still have two drumsticks and two wings, as well as one entire breast and thigh, to go. Since I already have the cranberry gastrique, I think I’ll make some chicken and dressing with the thigh and drumstick and wing pieces, and maybe a little of the breast, and use the rest of the breast for a lemon-chicken sauce for some penne pasta. Each of those will serve two, so that, with the total of four meals already, will make eight meals from a 3.5 pound bird, not counting the broth.
Makes me not feel nearly as bad about paying $12 for a whole chicken. That’s pretty cheap eats.
Tomorrow, I have to cook breakfast for lunch, as Child C will be coming back from a weekend visit to Hot Springs to see her pregnant friend and former roommate. Said former roommate is bringing her back, and she wants “some of Momma’s breakfast” for lunch before she heads back home. So if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em want some smashed baked potato topped with over easy eggs, some bacon and some sausage and some biscuits, show up at my house around lunchtime or early afternoon.