Last week’s experiment tasted better than it looks. I’ll probably fine-tune the proportions for the risotto the next time I make it. Please consider this a rough draft you can work on, if so inclined.
4 to 5 boneless chicken breast fillets
salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil (add more if needed)
1/2 cup white wine
Take your boneless chicken breast fillets and pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid. Pound them between sheets of plastic film if you wish them to be thin. (This is optional if you aren’t bothered by thickness of the fillets and you’re too lazy to hunt for your mallet like me.) Season each fillet with salt, pepper, and paprika. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, cheese and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a roomy sauté pan. Once the oil is warm, dredge the seasoned breast fillets into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Pan fry each piece around three to four minutes on each side, taking care not to crowd the pan. Larger fillet pieces will need extra cooking time. (This is why hunting out for the mallet was a good idea. Oh well.)
Let the cooked fillet pieces rest on a plate with some clean paper towels while making the risotto.
Off heat, deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping off the nice brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Set this aside for the risotto.
6 cups warm water *
1 chicken broth cube
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup portobello mushrooms, sliced finely * *
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced finely
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced finely
1 white onion, diced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated cheddar (or any nice hard cheese you have on hand)
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
* If you’re using dried mushrooms (fresh shiitake mushrooms aren’t available everywhere!) hydrate the mushrooms by soaking in one to two cups of warm water. Microwaving the mushrooms in the water helps speed up the process. After at least ten to fifteen minutes of soaking, check each mushroom piece and discard any hard pieces (usually the stems.) Remove the mushrooms with a spoon, then strain the remaining liquid into a measuring cup. Whatever amount you have (usually around one cup) can be used to replace some of the 6 cups of water.
* * Don’t forget to remove the black gills beneath the mushroom caps. These things are easily peeled off once you remove the stem. Technically, you can leave it in, but it will muddy up the color of the risotto.
Dissolve the chicken broth cube in the water. Set aside.
Warm some of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and sauté until soft, for about three minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.
With the remaining olive oil, sauté the onions for five to six minutes, or until it has a nice, slightly caramelized look. Add the rice, stirring to coat with oil, and cook for a few minutes. When the rice is golden brown and begins to smell lightly toasted, add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, stirring constantly for even absorption. When the 1/2 cup is almost absorbed, add another 1/2 cup, and continue to stir. Repeat this process until all the liquid is absorbed, ending with the white wine from the chicken. It usually takes twenty-five to thirty minutes.
Turning off the heat, add the mushrooms and any of its liquid, butter, and the cheeses, stirring well so distribution is even. Season with salt and pepper.