This is the final post in a series of four dinners made with one chicken. Here are the first three posts if you want to check them out:
– BBQ Chicken Legs
– Braised Chicken Thighs
– Orange-honey Glazed Breasts
As you can see I’ve used the legs, thighs, and breasts of the chicken. I really had nothing left except the carcass. Risotto with homemade stock came to mind right away.
The first part of this dish involves making stock out of the leftover parts of the chicken. I use this as an exercise in cleaning out my pantry as well. I must admit that I’m not sure I’ve ever made the same chicken stock twice. This is what I did this time around.
1) For stock, add all ingredients to a large stockpot with 10 cups of cold water.
2) Bring this to a boil and let it simmer for at least an hour, but 2-3 hours is best. Then strain off all of the solids and you will be left with a lovely golden liquid.
If you want to strain off the fat, the best way to do this is to make your stock a day in advance and then chill it in the fridge. The fat will solidify and then you can easily strain it out.
1) Slice your mushrooms and dice the onion. For the mushrooms, saute them in a large skillet over medium heat heat with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until they soften, about 5 minutes.
2) Remove mushrooms from pan and add 3 tablespoons of butter and oil to the pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and let cook until soft, about 3-4 minutes. You don’t want the onion really browned.
3) When the onions are soft, but not browned, add your rice. Cook for a few minutes to heat rice. Heat stock in a separate pot over medium heat.
4) Deglaze pan with white wine and stir until wine evaporates. Then start adding hot stock in about 1/2 cup batches.
5) STir risotto as the stock cooks and keep adding stock when the pan is almost dry. After 30 minutes and 5ish cups of stock your risotto should be almost cooked through but still have a very small bite.
6) Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and mushrooms from earlier. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Put all of this in a big pot and cover the ingredients with water.
Bring this to a boil and let it simmer for at least an hour. Then strain off all of the solids and you will be left with a lovely golden liquid.
There will be a good amount of fat floating to the top of the liquid. You don’t really want this fat in your risotto so we need to get rid of it. The best way to do this is to make your stock a day in advance and then chill it in the fridge. The fat will solidify and then you can easily strain it out.
I usually make my stock first thing after cutting up a chicken as it seems weird to me to keep a cut up chicken carcass in the fridge.
Now, assuming you don’t have chicken but still want to make risotto, you can of course buy stock at the store, OR you could make a veggie stock with the above veggies minus the chicken. It will have a lot of flavor and beat most store bought stocks.
The Mushroom Risotto
Now let’s tackle the rice. I like to use arborio rice, but their are other grains you could use for risotto.
Risotto is one of those mystical foods. Everybody loves it, but there is this strange magic around making it. And with due cause. It isn’t the easiest thing to make and you have to give it attention and love, but if you do you will be rewarded with a flavorful, wonderful dish.
In my risotto, I wanted to add some mushrooms, but they are optional. I also like to add an onion and good Parmesan cheese. If you have good stock however, you can make risotto with nothing but that and it is pretty tasty. These are just bonus items.
I washed and sliced my mushrooms and also sauteed them for about 5 minutes in a bit of olive oil to soften them up.
I am far from a master at risotto, but here are a few tips I use that produce good results:
– Don’t rinse your rice. You want to keep the start on the rice which will help a creamy sauce develop.
– Cook your rice “dry” for a few minutes.
– Add HOT stock slowly.
– Taste frequently.
Those are simple and will get you pretty far in the risotto world.
To start, I softened my onions in about 3 Tablespoons of butter AND 3 Tablespoons of oil. I was cooking 1.5 Cups of rice because I wanted lots of leftovers. If you were cooking 1 Cup of rice, 2 Tablespoons of each would be enough.
When the onions are soft, but not browned, add your rice. This is what I mean by “dry” cooking. You are basically sautéing rice. You want the rice hot to the touch, but not brown. This should take 3-4 minutes.
After that, add about 1 cup of stock to this. It is important that your stock is HOT, so put it in a pan on the side and bring it to a boil. Stir in your first cup of stock and stir well. It won’t take long for that first cup to get soaked up.
Then start adding a less amount of stock, 1/2 cup at a time, always stirring gently. Don’t worry about stirring vigorously. We aren’t whipping egg whites or anything. Just gently circulate the rice and make sure none of it is sticking to the pan.
After about 20 minutes, you will get something like this.
This is when I start tasting frequently. Good risotto isn’t mushy but isn’t hard. It has a “bite” to it. It’s kind of hard to describe if you’ve never had it. It is sort of like rice, al dente.
For my 1.5 cups of rice, I would guess I used between 4 and 5 cups of stock to get there and it took probably 30 minutes total. Then I killed the heat and stirred in about 1/3 Cup of shredded Parmesan and the mushrooms and some salt and pepper.
I’m not claiming by any means that I can make perfect risotto. It’s hard to get it perfect and I’m far from there, but honestly, any risotto is pretty good unless you just mutilate it. I like to serve mine right away! It’s so rich and creamy, I usually find it to be a meal in itself.
Risotto is one of those dishes that I think you can taste the love in. Something about the homemade stock and the constant stirring and attention that really comes through.
That said, I think mine could definitely be improved. Does anyone have any good risotto making tips? Leave a comment!