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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hungery Dancer does Giada's Risotto

Rice, we meet again. If you recall my last discussion about rice, it took me a hot second (30-some years, ahem) to finally cook rice successfully (all it took was marrying a Persian man). My next rice challenge? Risotto.

Risotto is one of those perfect mid-winter dishes, in all it's creamy, comfort food, carb glory. Add bacon to the mix and it's comfort food nirvana.

Who better to guide my maiden risotto voyage than my favorite Food Network chef, Giada De Laurentiis? I just love her. Not a single recipe I've made of hers has ever disappointed. The thing that always intimidated me about risotto is the time and effort required to reach creamy perfection. Giada's recipe has a twist that's perfect for risotto newbies like me - it starts on the stove, but finishes cooking in the oven.

And. It has bacon.

In true Hungry Dancer form, I made some adaptations to fit what ingredients I had on hand. I recruited the husband to be sous chef and it was game on.

Hungry Dancer's Risotto w/ Chicken, Bacon & Mushrooms

5 strips of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 large white onion, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus 1/4 cup more
1 lb. chicken tenders, chopped into small chunks
Ground sage
Dried rosemary, finely chopped
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

What I did

1. Cook the bacon until brown and crispy. Transfer from the pan to a paper towel with a slotted spoon, to drain.

2. Using the bacon drippings, cook the onion. Season with salt and pepper, cooking until just soft. Add the sliced mushrooms. Continue cooking until the mushrooms just soften.

3. Stir in the rice, cooking for a couple of minutes.

4. Add the chicken broth and stir. Bring this to a vigorous boil.

5. Oven time! Either keep it in the same pan if you have a lid and both are oven-safe. We don't have a lid for our saute pan, so we transferred the rice mixture to a glass baking dish and covered it with foil. Pop it into the oven let bake for about 25 minutes.

6. While the rice is baking, cook the chicken on the stove. Season with salt, pepper, sage and rosemary. Be sure to cook all the way through. Turn off the heat once it's cooked and let it sit.

7. When the rice is finished baking, take it out of the over and add it back to the pan, mixing it with the cooked chicken. Turn the heat back on, about medium-low, and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth until the risotto is creamy.

8. When it's creamy and velvety, stir in the bacon and cheese. Serve immediately.


We enjoyed artichokes as our side veggie... dipped in melted garlic butter, of course.

Quick directions: Cut off the stem and the top of an artichoke, as well as the leaf tips (see photo). Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the artichokes. Squeeze one or two lemon wedges into the water, and drop them into the boiling water, too. Add about a teaspoon of fresh minced garlic. Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the artichoke bottom is soft when pierced with a fork. Drain the artichokes. Peel off the leaves, dip the ends in the melted butter and pull the meat off the leaf with your teeth. When you get to the spines at the center of the 'choke, carefully cut these away and enjoy that artichoke heart, also dipped in garlic butter. Not healthy. So good.

If you happen to see this, I hope I made you proud, Ms. Laurentiis!

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What's your favorite mid-winter comfort food that makes you warm inside? Afraid of risotto like I was? Have no fear, Giada saves the day!

Happy Eating! 


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