Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Chicken and 'cep' risotto

I decided to make a risotto last night to use up the chicken stock and a few leftover bits of chicken. As already reported the stock had (accidentally) been in the Aga simmering oven for 40 hours so the risotto needed to be an intensely flavoured one. I added a few mushrooms but, more importantly, a teaspoon of poudre de ceps, a magic ingredient I bought at a French service station a year or so ago. It wasn’t that expensive - about 5 or 6 euros but makes ordinary mushrooms taste like ceps. You can buy a similar product in the UK with the appalling name of Shake-O-Cini.

The recipe, which tastes considerably more appetising than the rather murky picture above might suggest, is below but one tip. When you’re making a risotto with cooked chicken don’t add it at the beginning or it’ll go squelchy (to use a technical cooking term). I find it better to fry it up separately with the mushrooms then add it a minute or two from the end of the risotto cooking time.

Serves 2

1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic (optional)
40g butter
150g arborio or other authentic Italian risotto rice
1/2 a glass (about 75ml) dry white wine
500ml chicken stock
150g cooked chicken, skinned and cut into chunks
125g button mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 tsp poudre de ceps or Shake-O-Cini porcini powder
3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan plus a few shavings for serving
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter over a medium heat in a large saucepan, add the chopped onion and cook gently until soft (about 5 minutes) Add the garlic if using, stir well turn the heat up a little and cook for a couple of minutes. Tip in the rice, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes until the grains have turned opaque and are beginning to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the wine, stir and let it bubble up and evaporate. Meanwhile heat the stock until boiling and keep at a simmer. Start adding cups or ladlefuls of stock every time the liquid in the risotto gets absorbed and stir occasionally until it starts to look creamy and the rice tastes neither hard and chalky nor soggy. (This should take about 20 minutes. You might not need all the stock)

While you're doing this heat the oil and remaining butter in a frying pan and fry the chicken for a couple of minutes then add the sliced mushrooms and cook over a low heat until they begin to colour. Tip the chicken and mushrooms into the risotto with the last addition of stock and heat through. Turn the heat off then add cep or porcini powder, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan and let the flavours amalgamate for 2-3 minutes then spoon the risotto into warm bowls. Decorate with a few fine shavings of parmesan.

By the way, the poudre de ceps is also useful for boosting the flavour of a steak sauce, beef stew or gravy


notSupermum said...

I love a good risotto, although I rarely make them nowadays. I blame the children. They won't eat it, so it seems like a lot of work for one. Still, at least I get to blame them for something...

Career Misfit said...

I'm a risotto fan too, though I always get anxious about what to do with leftovers because of a rumour I heard that rice harbours bacillus cereus, and is therefore risky to heat up again once it's cooled.

Is it safe to reheat rice the day after or not?

Fiona Beckett said...

I used to find it helped if you called tricky dishes something else, notsupermum. Like, in this case, Chicken Rice. Or in the case of shepherds pie which might cause anxiety about eating real shepherds, mince and mash

So far as rice safety is concerned careermisfit I'm no expert but I think it depends how you handle it. Lots of restaurants only half cook risotto then 'hold' it to be finished off when the customer orders it. So I don't see why you can't refrigerate some for the next day so long as you don't leave it hanging around in a hot kitchen. Or make arancini - deep-fried rice balls.

verity said...

We've not had any problems reheating risotto, and sometimes it gets left for 2 days - just make sure it is fully heated through. After all, you can buy risotto ready meals which you have to reheat.

James said...

I'd forgotten about cep powder. You can also buy dried ceps/ wild mushrooms which have a strong flavour. A blitz in the proccessor and you have powder. You can use it as a seasoning - sprinkling over chicken for example.

I've really taken to using pearl barley in risotto. It takes a while to cook pearl barley - over an hour, but you can make more than you need and freeze the excess.

Regarding re-heating rice - if you are keeping it, cool it down as soon as possible - boiled rice can be run under cold water, or rice dishes such as risotto can be spread thin so it cools quickly - then stored in the fridge. Proffessional guidelines say it should be cooked the day it is needed and the remainder discarded at the end of the day.

Realistically though, at home if it is cooled quickly as above it can be kept in the fridge at 5 oC over night and used within 24 hours as the fridge just slows down the bacteria growth it doesn't stop it.

Bacillus Cereus does cause a number of food poisoning cases - but this is normally from bad practices - some fast food restaurants can keep cooked rice out in the kitchen so it's ready for use - the perfect temperature for the bacteria to multiply like mad, or if the fridge temperature is too high because the fridge door is always open. Bascillus Cereus is a tricky number too becuase it's not killed by cooking/ reheating - they produce spores (heat-resistant shells).

There's some more info here: http://www.abc.net.au/health/talkinghealth/factbuster/stories/2009/01/27/2475255.htm

Fiona Beckett said...

Thanks for all that very helpful advice about reheating rice, James. I'm sure if I dwelt on all the possible health hazards I'd never use any leftovers. Still, good to know. (Verity, you and I need to take heed!)

A very good tip about blitzing ceps too.

recipes2share said...

This sounds really good. The last I made with leftovers of roast chicken turned out rather greasy and stodgy, so went back to the mushroom or porchini with parmesan. Yours sounds much better than mine though!!

Fiona Beckett said...

I think the key is not putting your chicken in too early recipes2share. And 'toasting' the rice enough before you add any liquid - a good 2-3 minutes - a tip I was taught by Valentina Harris

recipes2share said...

...and she really is the godddess of Italian cuisine - lucky you!

verity said...

Yes, probably I do, but I don't like eating the same thing two days in a row!

I was wondering, how do you half cook a risotto and then "hold" it? I often like to cook dinner when I get home and just do the final touches as and when OH arrives - e.g. making mashed potato in advance to be reheated in the microwave, making macaroni cheese that just needs to go in the grill, chopping up the veg for roast veg...and it would be good to do that with risotto too...

Fiona Beckett said...

James will correct me (I hope) if I'm wrong on this but it's simply a question of half-cooking it but leaving it with a ladleful of stock in rather than leaving it 'dry'

As risotto doesn't take too long I don't tend to do this. My OH can chat to me while I'm cooking it!

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