Chicken Cacciatore with Risotto

Sun, Oct 12 • 0

Cacciatore means “hunter’s style” in italian, and it’s typically a braising method for chicken (or rabbit) with tomatoes and other vegetables, including mushrooms, onions, and herbs.

The chicken part of this meal was the simple part to the much more complicated risotto, but even that’s not so bad. I chose whole wheat short grain rice for my risotto, which doubled the cooking time, but you can choose regular white, arborio. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you could easily use chicken breasts, or a combination, and the chicken doesn’t have to be boneless — though I recommend the skinless, since the braising method would tend to make the skin sort of rubbery otherwise.

6 boneless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ cup onions, chopped
1 large can plum tomatoes, crushed, with juice

1 large leek, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
3 handfuls short grain rice, about ¾ cup
2 cups chicken broth, plus 3 cups water, heated to boiling
¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with the salt and pepper, and brown them off, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken, and put in the garlic and the onion, and sweat. Add the tomatoes, plus any herbs you like (basil or thyme would work well here) and bring to a rapid boil. Return the chicken and cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer. and cook until the chicken is cooked through — at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock and the water to a simmer in a saucepan. In another pan (preferably, a saucier), heat 2 tablespoons of butter, and add the leek, and cook until wilted. Add the rice, and stir, allowing the rice to soak up the butter, and turn pearly. Begin adding the hot stock, about three or four ladles-full to start. You don’t need to constantly stir the rice, but you do need to keep and eye on it, and stir it occasionally, to make sure it doesn’t scorch in the pan and run out of liquid. Keep adding more liquid, a ladle at a time. I also fortified the cooking liquid for the rice with some of the excess liquid from the chicken, which added flavor as well as a rosey color to the rice. It’ll take about 20 minutes for white risotto or 45 for brown to get to the point where you can taste a grain or two, and they’re chewy, but not so much so that they stick to your teeth. At this point, you can keep cooking it to whatever consistency you prefer. I like it the consistency of wet oatmeal. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and the shredded cheese. Taste for seasoning.


In Season Now : Asparagus

Fri, Apr 18 • 0

(This post is the first in a series of posts planned for Cooking Monster, where we’ll take an item that’s in season right now, and help you figure out delicious ways to take advantage of them.)

Asparagus is at its peak in the months of March, April, and May. Whether you prefer thick or thin asparagus stalks, look for specimens with tight, closed buds. White asparagus is exactly the same plant as green asparagus, but they’ve been grown in the dark to prevent photosynthesis, with the farmer either mounding the dirt over the plants as they grow, or by covering them with a box.

The bottoms of the stems tends to be a tough and inedible. You have two options of dealing with this problem. Option one has you taking one stem in your hands and bending it until it snaps, then trim the rest of the stems to that length. Option 2 has you trimming off tough green skin towards the bottom, and then snapping it off further down.

One easy, delicious method of cooking asparagus is to roast it, which will intensify the flavor. Toss trimmed asparagus in a bowl with some olive oil and plenty of salt. Spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and roast in a hot oven for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. Or toss them on the cool side of the grill for a smoky flavor.

Another of my favorites is to make an asparagus risotto…


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