At the dawn of a New Year you can be certain of several things:
- Students will mysteriously be looking smarter and shinier than usual for a short while after the flurry of Christmas presents.
- There will be some new theory revolving around the date the world will end this year.
- And everywhere you look there will be another diet being thrust in your face on how to lose that ‘excess Christmas bulge’.
Now, in general I am of part of the population that prefers healthier food. I unashamedly love vegetables, and all those other bizarre foods relegated to that aisle in the supermarket which they just don’t quite know how to categorise. However, the post-Christmas food diet strikes me a fairly pointless. January is by far the worst month of the year; it’s months until we’ll see sunlight again, most people either have exams or have to drag themselves to work once more and we’ll all be dismally failing our New Year’s resolutions. If there ever is a time for comfort food then that is now.
Risotto is a great winter supper- there is something about gooey rice that never fails to comfort. This particular risotto is ideal for the night after a roast- it uses up leftover chicken and makes use of stock (see below on how to make chicken stock). I think it’s a common misconception that risotto is hard. I promise it isn’t. It shouldn’ t take much longer than 40 minutes and the only thing it requires is patience. And patience is really just a more acceptable form of laziness so there really is no excuse.
Plus, if the world is indeed ending this year-and as it’s the Mayan’s turn to make the announcement I am more inclined that usual to believe them…after all, they discovered chocolate- then, quite frankly, I would rather shuffle off this mortal coil having had a darn good feed.
Creamy Chicken, Pea and Parmesan Risotto
x1 onion, finely chopped
1 ½ mugs of Arborio (risotto) rice
x1 mug white wine
roughly 800ml chicken stock
a couple of handfuls of left-over cooked chicken, in strips
large handful of frozen peas and/or Sugar-snap peas
roughly two handfuls of grated parmesan
1. Gently heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Soften the onion slowly until it’s looking translucent.
2. Add the rice, stir, then pour over the wine and turn up the heat slightly. The wine should simmer so that the bitter alcohol taste cooks off.
3. Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice add a ladle of stock. Each ladle of stock needs to be slowly absorbed, only stir occasionally and gently. Repeat with the stock, ladle by ladle.
4. When the rice is almost cooked (taste to check) add the frozen peas and chicken. Cook until it is piping hot.
5. Lower the heat, squeeze over the lemon juice, tasting after half to see how lemony you like it. Stir in half the parmesan and all the philly. Season to taste- go easy on the salt as parmesan is very salty.
6. Serve sprinkled with the rest of the parmesan.
*If you don’t have cooked chicken you can use raw chicken breast sliced into thin strips. Add this after the second ladle of stock. Check it’s cooked all the way through before serving*
A fair few of the recipes I make include ‘good-quality chicken stock’. This isn’t an attempt to sound pompous, for though stock cubes are great, ‘real’ stock made from the carcass is ten-folds better both flavour- and health-wise. Stock freezes really well so whenever you have a roast use the carcass to make stock and keep a stash in the freezer. The carcass itself can also be frozen if you don’t have time to make the stock immediately.
Here’s how to make it:
Simply place your chicken carcass in a pan along with: a bay leaf, pepper, a carrot roughly chopped, a halved onion (no need to peel) and
Top up the pan with water until the carcass is covered. Place lid on pan.
Now simmer this gently away for at least 45min, longer if you have time.
Cool once done and sieve the liquid to remove the carcass etc.