Monday, August 4, 2008

Risotto The Easy Way

Risotto is one of those dishes that is fantastic to make because it is so versatile, and so easy to play with flavours. The downside is too long standing in front of a pot of boiling stock stirring rice (does anyone else wind up feeling like they are getting a facial at the same time?) This risotto eliminates the half-hour of stirring, but still delivers a great risotto, that is neither too wet or too dry. And it reheats well for lunch the next day!

Oven-baked Chicken and Asparagus Risotto

2 tbl olive oil
500g boneless chicken breasts cut into thin strips (I used thighs)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
250g arborio rice
3 cups chicken stock
175g asparagus sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Heat 1 tbl olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the casserole and set aside.
Add remaining olive oil and the onion to the casserole and cook, stirring occassionally for five minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the rice, and stir to coat in the oil. Add the stock and bring to the boil, stirring occassionally.
Cover the casserole and put into the oven for 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven, add the asparagus and chicken, and bake for a further 3-4 minutes until asparagus is bright green and tender. Remove from the oven, stir in the parmesan, and season with salt and pepper, continuing stirring until some starch has been released from the rice and it is at your desired level of creaminess. Serve with extra parmesan.

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