I have recently rediscovered the joy of a pot of savory risotto on a cool winter evening. Even better, I have also discovered that flavored olive oils lift simple risotto to a higher level. We first bought Blood Orange Olive Oil and Tangerine Balsamic Vinegar in Goshen, Indiana (I blogged about using the oil and vinegar for a simple salad here), but recently a teacher friend of mine from graduate school gave it all up and opened a store specializing in olive oils and flavored vinegars.
Oh, Olive! is in a perfect location in Libertyville, a cute Chicago suburb with a thriving downtown. It was hard to choose which oils and vinegars I was going to buy, but I finally settled for Wild Mushroom and Sage olive oil, and several flavored balsamic vinegars. I had a bunch of pretty baby bella mushrooms and some leftover shredded Amish organic chicken in the freezer. With some sage from my spice rack, I knew I had the makings of a wonderful dinner.
Risotto is a good dish to make when you are having a dinner party, because if your house is like mine, everyone hangs out in the kitchen anyway. You can enlist help to prepare the ingredients together and then stir while you and your guests enjoy a glass of wine or two. The key to success with risotto is to use a thick-bottomed pot such as a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, which will help to control the heat. I keep asking myself how I lived without this pot, but that’s probably a post for another day.
Chicken and Mushroom Risotto
3 tbsp flavored olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups chicken, precooked and chopped or shredded into bite-sized pieces
1 package of sliced mushrooms – use your favorite variety or a mix
1 cup Arborio rice (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
3 cups chicken broth; you can substitute white wine for one cup of broth
Savory herbs to match your olive oil variety – about 3 tbsp dried
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
In a thick-bottomed pot, saute the onions, mushrooms, and chicken in olive oil. Add the herbs and warm the entire mixture. When thoroughly cooked, remove from pan and save for later.
Add the rice to the pan and blend it with the leftover oil and chicken leavings in the pan; you can add a little more oil if you need it. The rice should be coated and warmed through; then, add 1 cup of the broth and let it absorb into the rice, stirring frequently. On my stove, a setting of 6 out of 10 is a good simmering temperature. Keep adding liquid one cup at a time until the rice is creamy but still has texture and all the liquid has been absorbed.
Put the chicken mixture back into the pan with the rice, warm it all up, and let the chicken and mushroom flavors absorb into the rice. Add the parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
This recipe serves two adults nicely for a hearty meal with about a 2 cup serving. If you made it without the chicken, it would make four side dish servings to go with a meat or fish main dish. You can double or triple the recipe, depending on the size of your Dutch oven and the crowd you are serving. Bon appetit!