It took me a long time to perfect this recipe, but I’m glad I persisted because I now consider it an easy, go-to, staple in our household.
Please note though, I do not profess to be an expert at making risotto. As a matter of fact, it can be one of the hardest dishes to perfect and (truth be told) the first time I made it, back in 2006, it was thick and gluggy because I overworked it and overcooked it. All the same though, it was tasty and we ate it, and we both
enjoyed had leftovers for lunch – for the next few days.
Over the years I’ve experimented with how I approach cooking this delightful Italian dish and I believe I have got it right to some degree at least.
There are, however, a few things to consider before attempting this recipe.
- You must use Arborio Rice – it’s key to giving the dish its creaminess*.
- Risotto is cooked with stock, not water, and the rice should be slightly firm.
- Normally the ratio of rice to stock is 2 cups of rice to 1 litre of stock.
- White wine is also added (but the heat burns off the alcohol).
- The stock must be hot before it’s added to the rice.
- The key is to prepare all the ingredients before you begin cooking the rice.
- When cooking the chicken, remove from the pan before it’s completely cooked. It will finish cooking when it’s added to the rice.
- And finally, if at first, you don’t succeed, don’t give up – try, try again – you’ll be glad you did.
Another interesting point I’d like to mention is that I prefer to use dried shitake mushrooms mainly because I can never find fresh ones and, over the years, dried shitake mushrooms have become a staple in my pantry. I love their chewy texture.
The brand I purchase contains 40 grams and as this recipe calls for only ½ the packet, I store the other ½ in an airtight container for the next time.
I normally rehydrate them overnight, however, if I decide to make this dish on the spur of the moment, boiling water also does the trick – and quickly. If you choose to use boiling water to rehydrate the mushrooms, allow enough time for the water to cool.
I’ve written this recipe using the boiling water method and that’s why I’ve indicated a prep-time of 30-45 minutes.
Because you need to gently squeeze the mushrooms to remove any excess water, the extra time is indicated to allow for the water to cool. I prefer to squeeze the mushrooms by hand and (normally) the boiling water has cooled enough by the time I’ve reached step 3 below.
With all of that in mind, here’s my recipe. My additional comments are in italics.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
I do love to ‘whip this up’.
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 small-medium brown onion
- 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
- 20 grams of dried shitake mushrooms*
- 10 small-medium-sized button mushrooms
- ½ bunch of fresh asparagus (optional)
- 1 chicken breast
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup of white wine
- 1 cup of salt-reduced chicken stock
- extra water
- 60g parmesan cheese + extra for serving
- salt and pepper
- Rehydrate the shitake mushrooms by breaking them into smaller pieces and placing in a heatproof (pyrex) measuring jug. Add boiling water to the 350 ml mark and allow to sit until the water has cooled. The water becomes a flavoursome mushroom stock that will also be used when cooking the rice. DO NOT DISCARD this liquid.
- While the shitake mushrooms are hydrating (and that boiling water is cooling), prepare all the other ingredients and put aside until needed.
- Dice the onion
- Dice the button mushrooms
- Chop up the asparagus
- Cook the chicken breast whole then cut into small, bite-sized pieces retaining any juices.
- Drain the shitake mushrooms over a small saucepan to catch all the liquid and gently squeeze them to remove any excess water. You should have approx. 300 ml of mushroom stock. Measure how much you have if you want to, then add the chicken stock and 200 ml of water to make 1 litre of stock in total.
- Place the stock on the stove and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer to keep the stock hot without loosing too much through evaporation. We are now ready to start cooking the rice.
- In a wide, shallow pan (or skillet), melt the butter, add the onions, a dash of salt and fresh cracked pepper and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and stir. It’s ok to have the pan hot at this stage but be careful and work quickly ensuring you don’t allow onions to burn.
- Add the oil, stir through, and as soon as the oil has heated, add the rice. Continue stirring and cook for approx. 2 – 3 minutes until all the rice has become coated with the butter/oil mixture and is slightly ‘toasted’.
- With the pan still hot, add the white wine. Everything should sizzle. Stir until the wine is absorbed and then turn the heat down to low – you want to keep the pan hot without burning the rice.
- Start adding the hot stock approx. ½ a cup at a time, gently mix through without over stirring and ensure all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next measure of stock. I tend to swirl the rice after adding the stock, then let it simmer (without stirring) while it absorbs the stock.
- It should take approx. 20 – 30 minutes to add all but the last measure of stock and by this stage the rice should be ‘just cooked’ and have taken on a creamy texture.
- Turn the heat up and add the chicken pieces, mushrooms and asparagus and stir to combine. Also add any chicken juices.
- Add the last measure of stock and keep stirring while everything comes to the boil.
- Remove from heat and stir through the grated parmesan.
- Serve immediately with a little extra parmesan sprinkled on top.
NutritionI tried to obtain this information using the Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator I found online, but it became all too difficult. So I’ll just say this recipe is yummy and contains something from every food group.
- If using fresh shitake mushrooms, you need about a cup of them.
- Make sure the stock is kept simmering, not boiling.
- When adding the stock to the rice, a ladle full holds approx. ½ cup.
- Use any mushrooms you like, and as many or as few as you desire.
- When making this recipe recently, I only used 1 cup of rice because my supply was getting low and I was unable to purchase more.
- My photo shows the end result, it was a little light on rice, but the chicken, mushrooms and asparagus made up for that.
- I didn’t have any parmesan cheese either, so added a little (white) cheddar instead.
– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –
* There are other types of suitable rice, however, I’ve only ever used Arborio Rice when making risotto and don’t know the cooking (or reaction) times for other kinds of rice.