Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh No She Didn't!: Pasta Risotto

I know I have already posted two risottos, but I PROMISE, this one is definitely worth your while. The catch is that instead of cooking rice, you substituting it with my favorite college friendly simple ingredient, pasta. 

I love the Minimalist Blog by Mark Bittman from the New York Times, because he makes cooking in my kitchen quick and easy, but also at the same time concocts exciting flavors. No one likes a fussy recipe and buying ingredients you are never going to use again. This recipe is a pasta upgrade. Rather than boil your pasta in water, you slowly cook it in chicken broth. As the pasta cooks it absorbs the savory chicken broth/white wine base. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. If only I had mushrooms in my kitchen...good thing I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow!

If you are not a fan of mushrooms, you should be able to find a substitute. I recommend trying asparagus. However, even though I am not a big fan of the mushroom family quite yet, I love them in this recipe. When you saute them in garlic and then soak them in the  broth base, they pack even more flavor into the dish. The key is even if you don't like something, you have to keep trying. People's taste in food changes all the time. Don't miss out!

Unfortunately, I was out of fresh Parmesan to garnish my dish. On the bright side, spring break is in less than a week and mom will take me on a shopping spree to Caputo's! Right mom!?

Pasta Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
1 shallot or small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups crimini, shiitake or button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1/2 pound cut pasta like gemelli or penne, or long pasta broken into bits
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 boneless chicken thighs, diced
Chopped fresh parsley, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan, optional.

1. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add shallot, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms soften and begin to brown on edges, about 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, then wine. Stir and let liquid bubble away.

2. Ladle stock into skillet 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition and every minute or so. When liquid is just about evaporated, add more. Mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep heat at medium and stir frequently.

3. Begin tasting pasta 10 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender but with a tiny bit of crunch. When pasta is about 3 to 4 minutes away from being done, add chicken and stir to combine. Continue to cook until chicken is done — it will be white on inside when cut — and pasta is how you like it. Taste, adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and Parmesan if using, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


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