One-pot wonder

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I’m back, after what feels like forever away from the kitchen. In reality it’s only been a week of on the road craziness in my non-food life. Despite the vast array of delicious food on offer, eating out every meal – while a privilege – is not all it’s cracked up to be. Which is probably why I found myself devouring not-so-hot vegetables at midnight on Saturday. I was craving a good old feed of broccoli. What can I say, small things make me happy.

I’m grateful to be spending some down time with family at the moment. However, I am having kitchen/cooking withdrawal symptoms so am thankful that Mum is letting me cook in her house. I think I’ve mentioned before that she’s not so keen on the mess I make – naturally, we disagree on what defines ‘mess’ (and I do always clean up!).

While I love to spend all day in the kitchen, I do recognise that not everyone does and sometimes you need a quick one-pot wonder that will feed the whole family. Here’s an Italian risotto-like dish I made tonight. While not as creamy as a traditional risotto, there’s no toasting of the rice or slow adding of stock required. After the initial chopping, there’s nothing to it – it cooks itself.

The recipe is a modified version of one I found by Lidia Bastianich. I enjoy her show, “Lidia’s Italy”. Lidia lives in New York but hails from Istra (Istria), a large peninsular in the Adriatic that is shared by Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. While there’s nothing particularly special about the show, I think I probably like it because it reminds me of family and food in Croatia. We all have an aunt like Lidia.

What you’ll need

2 medium onions

2 medium carrots

1 stick celery

3 cloves garlic

Olive oil

5-600g chicken boneless chicken thighs (or breast, but thigh meat tastier)

1-2 bay leaves

250ml dry white wine

500ml chicken stock and 350ml boiling water (or 850ml chicken stock – best if it is hot)

300g Arborio rice

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1-2 Tbsp butter

1/2 C chopped parsley

Freshly grated Parmesan (or Pecorino)

Lemon

To make it

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Roughly chop the vegetables and pop into a food processor and blitz until minced.

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Heat a splash of oil in a 30cm heavy bottom fry pan, then add the minced vegetables. Cook for four or five minutes, turning until the mixture begins to dry out.

Meanwhile, chop the chicken into 2-3cm chunks.

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Add another small amount of oil to the pan then the chicken and bay. Brown the chicken.

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When chicken is browned all over, add the wine. Raise the heat and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated (I leave about a quarter). Add the stock/water then the rice. Add a good grind of salt and pepper and give it a mix. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat.

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Cover the rice and simmer for 15-18 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and rice is cooked.

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Take the pan off the heat. Stir in the butter, parsley and cheese. Season with additional salt and pepper if required.

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Serve with extra Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice.

And check out my next post for what to do with leftovers!

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