Not Yo’ Mamma’s Chicken and Rice

Chicken and rice is a staple dish in many homes and a go-to for pot lucks. I love to make it with saffron rice and boneless chicken breasts, but I’m always looking for different ways to give it some flair. I recently found a really great recipe for Chicken and Mushroom risotto.

Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish that is prepared with broth and meat, seafood or vegetables. Most people think it’s difficult to make but I’m here to tell you that anyone can make a good risotto. All it takes is patience and you can create a creamy rice dish worthy of the neighborhood trattoria.

Secret to a good risotto

The secret to a good risotto is the broth and time. Just like preparing a good broth, you can’t rush this dish. By slowly incorporating the broth during the cooking process, natural starches in the Arborio rice are released creating a creamy base for this recipe.

It’s always a good idea to bring your broth, or stock, to a simmer before starting to cook the rice. The warm broth will keep the main pan at an even temperature and cooking time will be decreased. When you start adding the broth a half cup at a time, allow it to cook almost “dry” and then add more. This slow process will take 20 to 30 minutes but is the best way I know to get the creamy desired result.

Adding Flavor

The rice is only the base of risotto with some of the flavor coming from the broth. The remaining flavor and texture comes from the ingredients you add. This dish draws on butter, mushrooms, chicken, parmesan cheese and parsley for the added flavors. Salt and pepper will play a part as well, but remember that your broth probably has some salt, so don’t add a lot.

The nice thing about risotto is that you can add just about anything to it and make a creamy rice dish. There are all types of variations which can easily be found on-line. Just remember that you need to use Arborio rice and a good stock, or broth. And for goodness sake, take your time. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

Courtesy of Food and Wine

Total time about 1 hour

Serves 4

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • ½ LB mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 to 1 LB of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 tsp or less of salt (remember stock may have salt so adjust accordingly)
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 TBSP olive or vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley
Cook's Tip: I use a ladle to add my broth, but I first fill it full of water then pour it into a measuring cup to determine its volume or capacity. My ladle holds about ½ cup which is perfect to use when adding stock to this dish.  It will save you some time and not be as messy or as dangerous as trying to pour hot broth into a measuring cup.

In a large pot or skillet (I use a 6-quart pan), heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until browned or about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, ¼ tsp of salt and the pepper. Cook until chicken is done about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm. In a smaller saucepan, heat your broth to a simmer.

In the large pot or skillet, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the wind and the remaining salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the wine has been absorbed. Add about ½ cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. Repeat this step with the broth until you have added all the broth ½ cup at a time. The rice should become tender in about 25 to 30 minutes. You may not need to use all the stock or you may need to add a little more if the rice is too thick. It’s a judgment call.

Stir in the chicken and mushroom mixture, parmesan cheese, and the parsley. Mix together and allow to heat through. Serve with additional parmesan cheese.


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