Monday, 25 July 2011

Cheddar, Chicken and Pumpkin Risotto

If you attended the last food and wine show in Brisbane and booked the cheese appreciation session, then you would know about this recipe. It is one from the Cheese Matters book that was available from the class.

I had never been big on risottos but after trying this version, I go back time and again to this recipe. The great advantage is, there are alternative flavours to try when you begin with a base such as this. When I feel like a rice dish this is where I return to.

To serve 4, you will need:
250g shredded tasty cheese
1tbl olive oil
2 chicken breasts, diced
75g butter
1 large onion, diced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced (I roast mine for that extra flavour, (45mins)
1.5litres chicken stock, simmering
2-3tbl chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and cook chicken until browned, and remove.

Add 50g butter to pan and saute onion until softened. Add rice and cook, stirring for one minute or until the rice has turned an opaque white colour.

 Add pumpkin, chicken and a cup of simmering stock and cook, uncovered, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed.

 Adding hot stock is important to maintain the cooking temperature and continue the cooking process. Continue adding stock in this manner, stirring regularly until the rice is cooked to "al dente" stage - this will take approx 15-20 minutes. If more liquid is required during the process add extra chicken stock or boiling water.

Stir in basil, half the cheese and remaining butter and season to taste. The final texture of the risotto should be moist and almost a little sloppy, not as dry as you would cook other rice dishes. Serve in pasta bowls with remaining cheese and a grinding of pepper.

Some alternatives or add-ins you might like to try:

A couple tablespoons of toasted pine nuts are a delicious addition.
When adding the onion you could add chopped bacon.
You might like to add some grated parmesan cheese to give that extra cheese bight.
If you are looking for something other than pumpkin and basil, use peas and parsley.

Hopefully you will enjoy and try the different suggestions just as I have. The variations are limitless.

Thanks Mum........M x

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