13 Feb 2012

Forty minute meal - Chicken and bacon risotto

You know what it's like - you get home after school and the kids are starving. You could easily shove some good old nursery food in the oven - burger and chips or chicken goujons.. but here's something that takes only a few minutes longer and is much more delicious. And, as my boys have an Italian heritage, it's something I've honed from watching Nonno in the kitchen..
It's a great dish to customise according to what you like. Everything in the ingredients is available at any supermarket.

A family favourite, chicken & bacon risotto
  • Pack of quick cook chicken or turkey breast
  • Packet of bacon lardons/pancetta or streaky bacon cut into small pieces.
  • Arborio or carnoroli rice, enough for your family size. (see hint for measuring later)
  • One Onion (You can use frozen diced for speed, but it's a bit watery)
  • Garlic - 1-2 cloves fresh or pureed in a jar.
  • Dash of white wine (optional)
  • Frozen sweetcorn or peas or other diced veg, if desired.
  • Olive oil
  • Hot chicken stock - cube is fine. How much depends on how much rice, but if not enough you can always add extra water to the pan.
  • Salt, black pepper
  • Italian herbs, fresh or dried. (eg, oregano, marjoram, basil or a dried Italian herb mix in a jar)
  • Cream, Cream Cheese or Creme Fraiche, whichever you prefer.
  • Heavy risotto/paella pan or large frying or saute pan.
Fry your onion and garlic, if using fresh, in a good glug of olive oil  for a few minutes until softened. Then add the chicken, diced, and the bacon and fry for a few minutes.
Then add the rice. I measure it out by using the plates I'm serving the meal on - imagining it doubled in size, not forgetting the other ingredients. This way I can measure the correct portion for each person according to their appetite. Keep stirring the rice in the pan so it doesn't stick.
Then, add the wine, if using, or a small amount of your hot stock. If using pureed garlic you can add this now. Stir and when absorbed, add some more. Then when that is absorbed, add a larger amount - your ingredients should be swimming but not submerged.
Then you can add your seasoning and any vegetables you want in it- go easy on the salt as your bacon will be salty. Better to add more if needed than to have a salty risotto!
Simmer until the rice is soft - you may need to add additional water as you go. Do not leave it alone for too long in case the water is absorbed.
When the rice is soft and the water absorbed, add a wodge of cream cheese (any type), a glug of cream or a good dollop of creme fraiche, whatever you prefer. This makes it really creamy and my kids love it.

When you're comfortable with making it, you can change it up by adding different ingredients, different meats or no meat, just vegetables. You have to go with what you know your kids will eat, though I have been known to sneak tiny chopped up courgettes in it which they boys won't touch in a larger size...
Buon apetito!