Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Chicken & Tarragon Risotto (Frugal food in disguise)

Risotto may not fill your imagination with excitement and thrills, but suppertime is sometimes more about
something reliable, easy and not bank breaking. You can save your fancy foams and sous-vided zebra for payday. This recipe is definitely not boring, but it is simple, and is a staple 'a couple of days after the roast chicken on Sunday' recipe in my house. Being a texture maniac I love the fresh crunch of aniseed from the shaved fennel on the top, along with the feathery fronds on top of the soft creamy rice. You can omit any crunchy bits for special people like the Boyfriend who doesn't like surprises.

I tend to only cook this after having roasted a chicken, so I use stock I have made from the carcass and the left-over meat stripped after we can't eat any more. It's always a good idea to buy a bigger chicken than you need, simply because you then have nice cold roast chook for recipes like this. Or to dip straight into the mayo jar, illuminated by the glow of the fridge, door wide open. I definitely don't do that.

Quantities can vary to suit you. but allow approx 75g risotto rice per person and as much chicken as you need to use up. This is for 2. You will need approximately a litre of chicken stock. Reserve a third of a fennel bulb and finely chop the rest, saving the green fronds on top. Gently fry this in a saucepan in a splash of olive oil, and when softened add a finely chopped clove of garlic. Fry for another 2 minutes then add the rice. Stir well for a minute, coating the rice in the oil, then add a glass of white wine. Let it cook, stirring most of the time until absorbed, then add hot stock, ladle by ladle, waiting each time for it to be absorbed, until the rice is almost tender but with a teeny bit of bite. Not crunch, bite. Take your time, don't let it bubble away angrily, this is a caaaaalm dish. Half way through add a large tbsp of tarragon (I don't use it often so find dried works perfectly well). Season and add the chicken in shreddy bits. You only need to warm it though. Stir in a handful of grated Parmesan and serve with the reserved fennel shaved with a peeler on top with the chopped fronds sprinkled over.

You might be a bit tipsy by the time you eat this, as the temptation to down a bottle of wine while doing all that stirring can be overwhelming, either way it's a lovely light risotto, and you feel be nice and wholesome in the knowledge that you got the absolute most out of Sunday's chicken.

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