Friday, February 25, 2011

Riso Alla Pitocca (Chicken and Rice)

photo by Emily Hale

I love the Create channel, especially since I don't have cable and the Food Network. Lidia Bastianich is one of my Create favorites and I've been watching her for a couple of years. Tonight was the first time I made one of her recipes though. I don't know why it took me so long. I've seen the episode at least three times and salivated throughout each viewing. My family and I were very happy with the results. Think risotto meets chicken and rice casserole only more flavorful and better for you (not to knock cream of chicken, but I always appreciate NOT using it). Plus it's easier than traditional risotto, because you add all the liquid to the rice at once instead of adding some, stirring, adding some...

If you've never seen Lidia, you should know that she insists on caramelizing EVERYTHING (even tomato paste). So notice the instructions and do what she says!

The veggies are ground up either in a blender or food processor and their flavors infiltrate the whole dish delightfully. I don't love bay leaf and didn't have fresh parsley, but I think it turned out mighty fine without.

Riso Alla Pitocca from Lidia's Italy (serves 4)

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into bite size chunks
1/2 C onion, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/2 C carrot, cut in 1-inich chunks
1/2 C celery , cut in 1-inch chinks
1 garlic clove
2 Tb olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 C dry white wine or chicken stock
2 1/2 C hot chicken or turkey stock, plus more if needed (use a good, organic brand)
1 C Italian short-grain rice, such as Arborio
1 Tb butter
1/3 C parmesan cheese, grated

Using a food processor or blender, mince the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic into a fine-textured "pestata". Pour the olive oil in the saucepan, and set over medium-high heat. Stir in the pestata, and season with 1/2 tsp of the salt. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the pestata has dried and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.

Toss in the chicken pieces and the bay leaf, and sprinkle over it the remaining tsp salt. Tumble and stir the chicken in the pan until browned and caramelized all over, about 4 minutes. Raise the heat, pour in the 1/2 C white wine or stock, and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits in the pan, until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Pour in the hot stock, stirring, then all the rice. Bring to the boil over high heat, cover the pan, and reduce the heat to keep the riso bubbling gently. Cook for about 14 minutes, or until both the rice and the chicken chunks are fully cooked and the consistency is creamy. You can cook away the liquid if you prefer a firmer dish, which I do. Just take off the lid and turn oup the heat for an extra minute. Lidia prefers hers to be soupy.

Turn off the heat, drop in the butter , and stir vigorously until thoroughly amalgamated, then stir in the parsley grated cheese. Spoon the riso into warm pasta bowls and serve immediately,passing additional grated cheese at the table.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

That sounds delicious! I've been looking for some recipes to add to my Italian repertoire--pasta has been a little boring lately. I'm excited to try this!