Not so scary rice

One of the things I’m learning about parenthood is that nothing should surprise me. But, at the same time, life is full of moments of delightful surprise. A not so delightful episode recently was when Master almost-3 uttered (in context), “I don’t like you Mum”. Clever little bloke, already trying to push my buttons.

So far I’ve managed to show little outward emotion when those words come tumbling out (he won’t get the better of me) and find that disinterest or distraction works a treat. For us, that often means deferring to food – watching, making or eating it.

IMG_6743My not so little guy has recently taken to rice. I expect this will be a good thing in years to come – given how economical rice is and the ever growing appetite of the aforementioned child.

You’ll all know by now that I have no issue being in the kitchen all day cooking – not much makes me happier. So I find traditional risotto an easy, filling and stress free meal. But I do get that some find adding a cup at a time of stock tedious. Others have told me they are just ‘scared’ of making risotto. Here’s a solution for those of you in either camp, or for those who want to try a something different. Importantly, it tastes as good as any other recipe I’ve made. And it gives you time to whip up a dessert while the rice is in the oven!

One of the bonuses of this recipe is that it is an all in one pot creation. If you don’t have an oven/stove proof casserole, you can use a large fry pan then transfer the mixture to an oven proof dish. (If you don’t have a lid for the oven dish, use tightly secured foil.)

IMG_6720You’ll need

Splash olive oil

2 T butter

1 leek (white portion only), thinly sliced

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Twig or two of fresh thyme

4-500g chicken breast, cut into cubes

300g (1 1/2C) arborio rice (or other risotto rice)

100ml white wine

1l chicken stock (I use liquid)

40g Parmesan cheese, grated (plus additional for serving)

Now make it

Turn the oven to 150C. Heat the oil and 1T butter in the casserole or fry pan.

IMG_6722Add the leek and onion and cook for about four-five minutes until soft (but not brown), stirring now and then.

Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another two minutes (I tend to add the whole twig of thyme and pull it out at the end).

IMG_6724Throw in the chicken and cook for two-three minutes until it has changed colour (stir it so it doesn’t burn, but don’t stew).

IMG_6725Add the rest of the butter and when melted, the rice (note: do not wash the rice first – you don’t want to get rid of the starch). Stir so it is coated with the butter (about two minutes).

Pour in the wine and stir until it evaporates. Season well with pepper and a little salt (remembering that stock can be salty). Add the stock and bring to a boil.

IMG_6730Cover the casserole (or transfer mixture to an oven proof dish) and put into the oven for 15 minutes. Give the mixture a quick stir, cover again and cook for another 15 minutes (ish).

IMG_6732Remove from the oven, stir and check the rice is to your liking. Stir through the Parmesan. Cover for five minutes.

Serve with additional Parmesan and you may wish to throw a little Italian parsley through it for colour.

If you don’t wolf it down it one sitting, this is great for leftovers (reheat with some additional stock or water), or to turn into yummy arancini.

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