Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by the book coauthored by the two, Almost Meatless, due out in spring 2009.
When Tara and I developed the recipes for Almost Meatless, diversity of ingredients and influences was a goal. We wanted the final assortment of recipes to show how eclectic a meat-lite meal plan can be.
But this weekly column reflects more accurately how I cook at home: I start by scouring the fridge, pantry, and freezer to identify what I already have on hand. This recipe is kind of a sibling to the chicken hand pies I posted about two weeks ago. For those, I started with half of a poached chicken breast from a batch of chicken stock. (I always remove the chicken breast about an hour into the stock's simmering phase and reserve it for meals later in the week.) I saved the other half for this risotto, which gets its meaty flavor as much from the dried porcinis as it does from the chicken. In my next recipe, the dried porcinis (I always have them on hand) will reappear in a meat-lite meat sauce for homemade pasta. Stay tuned.
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable or mushroom broth, preferably homemade
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste to drizzle over finished dish
- 2 shallots, minced, about 1/3 cup
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 11/2 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 white wine
- 1/4 cup cream (optional)
- 1/2 poached chicken breast, boned, skinned and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup grated romano cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Pour 2 cups boiling water over dried mushroom and soak for 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms, chop coarsely and set aside. Strain soaking liquid into a medium sauce pan and add the stock. Bring the liquid and stock to a simmer, and keep hot.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and thyme and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring, until it is absorbed.
Add the hot liquid in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly and waiting until the liquid has been absorbed before adding more stock. (You can also start by adding about half the total liquid and simmer partially covered until it's absorbed, about 10 minutes. And then add the rest a little at a time.)
When most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, add the cream, if using. Add the chicken, mushrooms and cheese and stir to combine. Taste, and season to taste with salt and pepper.