Friday, February 22, 2008

Risotto with Chicken, Prosciutto & Tomato

Many years ago I often spent weekends in Wisconsin helping some friends renovate an old farm house into a weekend retreat. The weather was hot, the work was dirty & many times a shower was a bucket of water over the head outside. But once evening rolled around there was plenty of red wine & lots of great food. It was in this environment I had risotto for the first time. It was my job to stir the broth slowly into the rice, letting each addition be absorbed until you could part the rice like the red sea, as my friend told me. Risotto still seems to me the perfect dish for a laid back evening with friends. A simple, warm creamy dish that welcomes any additions you want to throw in form the fridge or pantry.
I know many people think it is too much work & that you have to constantly stir it, I've discovered it is a bit more forgiving than that & you can walk away to do other things & just stir from time to time as you add the broth. Usually I make very simple vegetable risottos with either peas on asparagus & a little cream added at the end. Last night I made a heartier version with chicken, prosciutto & tomato. You cook the tomato down quite a bit before adding it to the rice with adds a nice tomato taste to the creaminess.
risotto with chicken, procuitto & tomato

2 T olive oil
2 T finely minced onion
1 boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
3 oz prosciutto, diced
2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded & diced or 1/2 can Italian tomatoes, well drained & diced
5 c broth (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 c white wine (I often skip this & just use a little more broth)
2 T unsalted butter
1T olive oil
1/3 c finely minced onion
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
1/4 c grated Parmesan

cooking risotto
Heat the 2 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add the onion & sauté for about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the chicken, prosciutto & tomato & cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through & tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a saucepan, bring the broth to a steady simmer.
Heat the butter & remaining olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion & sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice & stir until well coated. Add the wine & stir until completely absorbed. Beginning adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time. Stir from time to time & add more broth as each addition is absorbed. Reserve about 1/4 cup at the end. After about 18 minutes the rice should be tender but still firm to the bite. Add the remaining broth & the chicken mixture. Turn off the heat and add in the Parmesan, stir to combine. Serve right away.

4 large servings.
From Risotto by Judith Barrett & Norma Wasserman

I find sometimes it takes a little more broth & a little more time to get the rice to the right texture but usually this recipe is pretty close, it never takes less.
You can really take the basic technique here & add anything you like the flavor of, mushrooms, herbs, etc, instead to the chicken, prosciutto & tomato.

1 comment:

Luca said...

I also have the book you took the recipe from, and I think it is a great book, indeed. Moreover I am Italian, from the north, and I can certify the recipes are really really
the real thing.

If I may suggest you something though, you should never cook for more than 18 minutes. It is really all it is required. Because there's one last step missing from the recipe, don't know why, which is what it is called the "mantecatura" (dunne where this comes from, maybe spanish mantequilla ?) Anyway, at 18 minutes (if you have the right rice of course) you check that there's not too much liquid in the pot; if the rice seems too "dry" add a little broth and wait for it being absorbed until the rice looks a little wet, if the rice looks too wet, wait a minute longer. Then you turn the heat off, salt, pepper, grate some nutmeg if required, throw in the grated parmesan, stir vigorously so to spread the chees all over the rice, then cover with a lid and set aside for 5 minutes. These 5 minutes are the time required for the rice to finish cooking, and set. Then you serve, and it will be just perfect.

PS: of course one important thing is to avoid anti-sticking pans. You should use a sticking pan, like anodized aluminum or steel. It is not important if the rice sticks a little, because when you turn it with a wooden spoon (better a wooden spatula) you will be able to scrap it from the bottom.

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Measurement Abbreviations

T = Tablespoon
t = teaspoon
c = cup
lb = pound
oz - ounce


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