I consider myself a pretty diverse cook, but that’s just me. This week, my food choice was a simple Italian dish of chicken and sausage risotto. Yesterday, I woke up bright and early, took care of tidying up the kitchen (I dislike cooking with an already messy kitchen) and set about on the prep work. Sure you think, cooking up rice is probably a piece of cake. It is… If you’re cooking up just rice and not using fresh ingredients. For those who are curious, and don’t let it scare you, it took me an hour to do all of the prep work. I had to mince garlic (my hands still smell like it), chop an onion finely, measure out just how much I would need and set them aside.
On a side note real quick, I don’t know about you guys, but if a recipe calls for something like minced garlic or chopped onions, I always find it easier to chop excess to what I need and put it in a container, storing it for the next time I’ll need it (which I will when I make Pad Se Ew, tomorrow).
Back on topic, after I’d taken care of the garlic and onion, I set about cleaning the chicken I would need. Something about the packaged chicken I got yesterday (I always use skinless, boneless breasts) was absolutely disgusting (moreso than usual). As usual, I rinsed the chicken off before cutting it as you never know what kind of bacteria it has on it and can never be too sure and started cutting it up. I sliced the breast lengthwise four times so I got four, nice, even strips to work with. After that, I cut each strip into thumb sized pieces (not my whole thumb, but the top knuckle) and set them aside in a bowl. All you really need is 12 ounces. Luckily for me, I had some excess so I’ll most likely grill up the last breast that I didn’t use and make a chicken caesar salad over the weekend. (That’s the great thing about chicken: it’s so versatile and you can make many dishes from it.) After slicing up the chicken and setting it aside, I cleaned off my cutting mat and knife and set about with the sausage. While Mum and I had been at the grocery the day before, we mulled over what kind of sausage to get. Me personally, I prefer to buy the fresh stuff, whereas she had me get chicken sausage with chipotle and cheese. I was a bit skeptical while cutting it (and I had every right to be, it kept cheesing on me), but later on it turned out to be an excellent buy (especially because it’s cheaper than the really fresh stuff and not as gross to work with). Don’t think that by buying prepackaged stuff I sacrificed taste for time, because that definitely wasn’t the case. I was in no rush and, as I’ve mentioned, spent an hour on the prep work alone.
With the sausage and chicken cut, my next move was to clean off the stove (that’s where I’d been cutting everything) and get the pan on the burner. The recipe (which I’ll post at the end like I usually do) called for me to put the sausage and chicken with the onion in a large pan, or if I had one a dutch oven and saute it for 5 minutes in olive oil. Here’s a tidbit, I wasn’t going to pay 8-10 for a big bottle of olive oil, I hardly use it as it is and until I use it more, I honestly don’t mind using conola or vegetable oil in my cooking. As soon as the chicken was no longer pink in the middle (about 5-7 minutes) and the onion was fragrant and translucent, I stirred in the garlic, letting it get fragrant also.
Another side note: It sucks being under age. This recipe called for a cup of Chardonnay and Mum doesn’t keep any in the house/refused to buy it for me. My next project, when I want to cook foods that call for alcohol, will be to look up substitutes. I heard somewhere that apple juice works just as well as white wine if you’re not a drinker. Maybe next time I’ll give that a go.
Back on track, yes, the recipe did call for alcohol, but like I said, I couldn’t get my hands on it and therefore had to skip that step all together and just add the chicken broth in with the rice. If you didn’t already know, risotto is the art of adding liquids to rice until it’s cooked. No, you’re not cooking the rice first and then puffing it up with chicken broth after. You’re cooking the rice in chicken broth until it’s cooked. If you’ve never had risotto before and think it sounds gross because of aforementioned cooking method, it’s really not. It’s not overpoweringly chicken-y and it comes out really creamy and smooth (if you do it right). All you need to do is initially add three (3) of the four (4) cups of broth that the recipe calls for and let it simmer without a lid for 15-20 minutes on medium to low heat. The reason for the estimate is I’ve cooked rice at least 100 times and I’ve only gotten it right a handful of times and that was when I turned down the heat and let it cook longer. Yum, puffy, sticky rice!
Yes, the recipe calls for it to cook for that amount of time on low heat, but don’t be fooled, you can’t just walk away and do as you please for that period of time. In the last five (5) minutes, the rice, sausage, chicken, garlic, onion and broth mixture will begin to thicken. Never fear, this is completely normal as the rice is soaking up the broth. Stir it around so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (please don’t use a metal pan, I prefer Teflon, nonstick pans myself, especially while cooking rice. It comes off very easily and makes for an easy clean up) and you’ll be okay. After the initial broth is all absorbed, stir in the last of the broth, a ¼ a cup at a time until it’s all absorbed (about 5-10 minutes) and voila! All of your hard work is done. Be sure to sit and enjoy it while it’s fresh and do so with a good glass of red wine!
The original recipe is, http://allrecipes.com/recipe/italian-chicken-sausage-risotto/detail.aspx
When you look at the recipe, you’ll certainly notice some differences. My version of that recipe calls for both chicken and sausage, and I left out the peas (Mom and I don’t mind peas, but they don’t belong in risotto, I think). Also, because I’m underage, I can’t buy the wine I needed (which I royally nagged my mom about. “You know… when I’m of age I will drink wine with dinner [I already do at my Gran’s place] and I’ll use it in my cooking!”), but I’d say, my recipe came out just as good as the one listed there. I must also warn you, the chicken sausage I used gave the risotto a bit of a kick (spicy!), but it came out good nonetheless and I’m sure it was only because of the chipotle.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday, this Chef-To-Be must be off to get ready for a family dinner! My next dish, I can assure you, will be either the Thai Pad Se Ew or the Macaroni and Cheese I’ve been wanting to make for ages now!
Until next time,
Stay Hungry, Mates!