Friday, December 17, 2010

Chicken Risotto with Broccoli -- The Perfect Pantry Dinner!

This is a picture of my dinner tonight.  It's a favorite in my house for several reasons:

1.  My kids love it!  Beg for it!  Can't get enough of it! My daughter ate 4 bowls of it tonight.

2.  I can make it in one pot -- I hate washing dishes... shocking, I know.

3.  I always have the ingredients on hand -- it's truly a pantry dish for me.

4.  My whole family will eat it for leftovers the next day.  Really, all of it -- they fight over it -- I can't explain it.

5.  It's reasonably easy and fairly fast.  Not as fast as say Chili, Chicken Soup, Beef Stew or Chicken Yum -- they're all under 10 minutes (prep time, that is), but fast enough (and yes, that is what's known as shameless self-promotion :)

Here's why it's a pantry dish for me.  I always keep Risotto and chicken broth in my pantry (I buy big batches of both from Trader Joe's and Costco).  I also always keep B/S Chicken Breasts in my freezer (also TJs & Costco).  I generally have butter, onions and broccoli in my fridge, but if not I can substitute olive oil for the butter, skip the onions and use frozen broccoli in a pinch.  I'm also Italian and it's rare that I don't have fresh Parmesan cheese in my fridge, though even that can be substituted out with the shake can stuff.  And lastly, coffee addict that I am, half and half is generally also a staple (milk will do in a pinch).

Here's how to make it.  Using your largest sauce pan, melt about 2tbsp butter and saute a chopped onion while you chop the chicken.  My chicken's always kept frozen, so I microwave defrost for about 40 seconds so that it's still rather frozen, but easy to chop.  Throw in the chicken with the sauteed onions and cook for about 4-5 minutes -- I also season with salt and pepper at this point.  Then I add 3 cups of Risotto (I use a lot so there will be leftovers, see #4 above).  I let that cook about a minute until the risotto starts to turn translucent.  Then I add 2 cups of chicken broth and turn the heat up to HIGH!  This is where it gets a teensy bit dangerous.  Risotto has to cook on high heat, so shoo the kiddos out of the kitchen.  When the broth is absorbed, I add two more cups of broth and I stir constantly -- well, sort of constantly. Somewhere in there I chop up my broccoli if I'm using fresh.  Once the broth is again absorbed, I switch to water and add 2 cups of that and the broccoli stems, chopped.  I keep stirring, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom.  I wait for the water to be absorbed, shoo the kids out again because by this time the smell has them panting, and then add 2 more cups of water and the broccoli tops.  If I'm using frozen broccoli (I get Trader Joe's), I add the whole bag at this point.  When the water is again absorbed, I add a handful of shredded Parmesan and about 1/3 of a cup of half and half.  Stir a bit more, test for seasoning and then turn down the heat and let it set for about 5-7 minutes before serving.  Yummy!  Here it is in a nutshell:

Chicken Risotto with Broccoli
2 TBSP Butter
1 onion (diced)
2 B/S Chicken Breasts (chopped into ½-1 inch pieces)
3 cups Risotto
Chicken Broth (about 32oz or one box from Trader Joe's)
4 Cups Water
2 Heads of Broccoli (or one bag frozen)
1/3 cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Half & Half
Salt & Pepper to taste

In large saucepan, melt butter and saute onion for 2 minutes.  Add Chicken and brown.  Add Rissoto and cook for 1 minute or until translucent.  Turn heat to high, add 2 cups broth and stir until absorbed.  Add 2 more cups broth and stir until absorbed.  When broth is again absorbed, add 2 cups water and broccoli stems (chopped) and keep stirring.  When water is absorbed, add 2 cups water and broccoli crowns and keep stirring.  When water is again absorbed, add Parmesan and Half & Half, stir another minute or two and then turn off heat and let sit for about 5-7 minutes.  Stir again, season to taste and serve.

Tonight, being December 17th, I put on Bing Crosby's Christmas album right before I began, and by the time he was crooning Mele Ke Leke Maka, we were eating -- if you've never heard Bing's White XMAS album, go to Amazon right now and download it -- it's here and it's really not Christmas w/o it.  If you have some unreasonable aversion to Bing, then I guess you can just time the whole meal prep at say... 30 minutes.  But seriously, consider Bing -- it adds that special something ...and yes, we're most definitely on a 1st name basis after all these years! J

1 comment:

  1. This sounds delicious! I'm totally making it! Thanks for sharing!