Risotto, once mastered, is one of those versatile dishes that can accommodate a virtually endless combination of whatever happens to be in your fridge. This particular recipe calls for chicken and mushrooms. Using the same base you can add asparagus, peas, shrimp and pesto – whatever you wish.
- 2 tablespoons best quality butter
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 6-8 cups chicken broth
- 2 saffron threads (optional – but lovely if added)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 uncooked chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat chicken broth to a simmer in a pot adjacent to the one you will be using to cook the rice. Put a ladle in chicken broth.
Heat the butter in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Add the rice and stir for one minute to coat the rice with the butter. Add the cup of wine. Stir constantly until the wine is absorbed into the rice. This won’t take long. Add 1 cup of the simmering chicken broth. Stir the rice. You’ll need to stir much of the time. Once the chicken broth has been absorbed, add the next cup of stock.
Keep adding stock and stirring while the stock is absorbed. Making risotto is a slow process. Have a glass of wine. Chat with your friends. Listen to some music. Taste the risotto. Is it too al dente? Add more broth. Stir some more.
In an adjacent saucepan heat the olive oil. Sauté the shallots until they are translucent. Add crimini mushrooms and sauté for 4-5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the cut up chicken breasts and sauté until the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside.
When the risotto is just about soft enough for your palate (but not quite), add the saffron threads, the chicken/shallot mixture (including any liquid in the pan), and the fresh tarragon. Stir until the liquid from the mushrooms/chicken has been absorbed. Taste the risotto again. If it still needs additional broth, add it. Once it is soft enough for your liking, add the Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately. Garnish with additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Risotto congeals when it sits. It does not make great leftovers.