Frugal Foodie Mama: Chicken, Spinach, & Leek Risotto

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chicken, Spinach, & Leek Risotto

After a very rough and down day, I knew I needed a little home cooked comfort.  What dish do I always turn to when I need comfort food?  Risotto.  It is my adult mac 'n cheese.  It is creamy; it sticks to the ribs; and it can easily be transformed into a adult savvy dish.  Tonight I decided on a chicken, spinach, and leek risotto.  Please note:  risotto is a highly versatile dish.  You can add just about any veggies and meats that you would like, so please feel free to adapt this recipe to your liking (or cravings).

Dice about half of a large mild onion (I like vidalia, but a few shallots also work very well.).  Heat about 2 tbsp. of butter in a large frying pan.  Once melted, saute the diced onion in the pan until tender, about 5 minutes.  Pour about 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice into the frying pan with sauteed onion.  (Now THIS IS IMPORTANT:  Please use arborio rice.  It usually comes in a plastic container at your grocery store.  I cannot guarantee the creaminess and yumminess of your risotto if you use any other type of rice.) Saute the rice with the onion for about 1-2 minutes.  Next pour in about a 1/2 cup of chicken broth (For my vegheads, you can use veggie broth!).  Let the rice completely absorb the chicken broth.  You are going to repeat this process several times until your rice has reached the proper doneness, so you will need one box of chicken broth, 32 oz.  You can find boxes of broth in your supermarket's soup aisle.  Continue adding broth to your rice as it is absorbed.  Stir often so your rice does not burn.

While your rice is cooking (keep adding broth until your box of broth is gone), take a good sized leek and give it a good rinse in your kitchen sink.  You can find leeks in the produce section.  Just look for something that looks like a giant green onion!  Slice the dark green top and the hairy root bottom off of your leek.  Then slice it in half and slice each half into thin strips crosswise.  Heat a couple of tbsp. of olive oil in a medium frying pan.  Once heated, add your sliced leek.  Saute for about 4 minutes.  Then add 4-6 handfuls of fresh baby spinach, a couple of handfuls at a time.  The spinach leaves will cook down.  Don't forget to keep checking your rice and adding your chicken broth!

When your rice is almost done (Taste your rice throughout the process!  It will be ready when it is a little more done than al dente.), add 1/2 cup of white wine.  You do not have to add the wine, but it gives the risotto a different element of flavor that I like.  And don't worry- the alcohol in the wine will cook out.  Add your leek and spinach mixture to the rice.  Sprinkle in about a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir.  At this point, I add my chicken.  Because roasting a chicken can be very time intensive, I usually pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store.  (If you are lucky enough to have a Fresh Market in your neighborhood, they have amazing rotisserie chickens!)  To my risotto, I added just the meat from the drumsticks and some tender pieces of the dark meat.  I save the chicken breasts to make large salads for lunch the next day.  :)  (Yes!  Two meals from one chicken!  Score!)  Last but not least, season your risotto with salt and pepper.  Taste it before serving and make sure the seasoning suits you. 

Plate up your risotto and sprinkle a little Parmesan on top.  Serve with a crusty Italian bread.  Please note: To make good risotto, you need patience and about 1- 1 1/2 hours of your time.  But trust me, the wait and work is SO worth it.