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Rosemary Risotto with Grilled Chicken and Green Beans

July 2, 2008

Rosemary scented risotto

Risotto is pretty high up there on the all-time favorite things list. So much so that I will stand in front of a hot stove for 45 minutes one one of the HOTTEST DAYS EVER just to have it. Yes, my friends, I am clearly crazy. Yesterday was unbearably hot and muggy (what is with these weather patterns?), but even extreme discomfort could not stop me from a lengthy, stove-front cooking project last night. And after that I baked bread! Lunatic. However, it was totally worth it because this was some absolutely delicious risotto.

Everyone seemed to like the risotto so much when I put cumin in the stock, and I got to thinking of all the other numerous ways you could flavor risotto. One of the first things that occurred to me was rosemary. Rosemary can be awfully strong, and using it to flavor the stock, rather than cooking it directly into the risotto, gave the risotto a more subtle flavor. It might just be one of my best ideas yet (well, after the Mexican pizza, anyway).

Making risotto is almost like a ritual to me now. I have a set up, I have a special ladle that I use that is the perfect size for adding just a bit of stock at a time. I even have a rule about adding wine: The first glass of the bottle goes to the risotto, and the second glass to the cook. I love to cook it, even when I’m standing in front of the stove sweating, because it brings me into an almost meditative state. A few weeks ago I was reading a post on one of my favorite blogs, Crazy Aunt Purl, about active meditation, and how for her, knitting is just the thing to bring your mind into focus. That is how I feel when I start preparing ingredients for risotto.

Toasting the rice

It’s hard to explain how to make risotto. It takes a bit of practice, as evidenced by the fact that it took me about fourteen tries before I finally got it right (ok, it took three). After awhile, you start to recognize when it’s almost done, just how many more cycles of broth-adding and stirring must be gone through. And it all comes together so quickly, just like that. I love it.

This time around, I didn’t mix anything into the risotto. I grilled some marinated chicken and some green beans (on my grill pan in the kitchen, because hey, it obviously wasn’t hot enough), and served them all together. I wanted the rosemary in the risotto to stand out a bit, and that it did.

The chicken was marinated in a simple balsamic-based marinade, with a few sprigs of rosemary thrown in as well, and some Trader Joe’s Twenty-one Seasoning Salute I found on the spice shelf. I tossed the green beans in about five minutes before everything went on the grill, so they had just enough oil not to burn and just enough flavoring not to be boring. The chicken was incredibly tender: I love what marinade and a grill pan will do for a boring boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Cooking risotto

Balsamic Rosemary Marinade

  • about 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. 21 Seasoning Salute or Lemon Pepper or your favorite spice blend
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • about 1/4 c. olive oil
  • a few sprigs of rosemary

Mix all the ingredients together and marinade 2 chicken breasts for about 30 minutes. It can’t get much easier than that. Keep the rosemary whole on the sprigs; it makes it much easier to fish out so you don’t end up grilling bits of rosemary onto the chicken. I grilled the chicken about five minutes on one side (covered) and four minutes on the other (covered). And the chicken was perfect! I so often undercook chicken, it felt triumphant to cut into the chicken and realized it was cooked through! Even better to realize how good and juicy it was. Say what you will about boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sometimes they are delicious.

I grilled the green beans, also covered, for probably about three or four minutes, stirring them about with tongs halfway through. The grill pan is great for things like skinny vegetables, because they won’t be falling into any cracks into the fire, but they get those lovely grill marks on them. I heart my grill pan.

I used a really basic recipe for the risotto. The only difference is that I had a big sprig of rosemary in the stock the whole time it was on the back burner, just steeping. And I used a homemade vegetable stock made with leftover scraps from the previous weeks’ cooking. I think there may have been a little piece of chicken wing in there, too. The stock itself was pretty good. I am all about this homemade stock thing these days. I’ve started keeping a ziploc bag in the freezer, and every night, instead of throwing my vegetable scraps in the trash, I add them to the bag. Once it’s full, I make a small batch of stock (probably about three cups), which is nice to have on hand for rice or couscous, or risotto.

Rosemary-scented risotto

Man, I even managed to garnish! I am all about spiking the stock with different flavors now. I think lemon or orange zest would be delicious. Sage might be really interesting. If any of you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments! I can’t wait to experiment. (Maybe I will wait until it cools off a bit, though.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2008 11:50 am

    Yum! I like risotto, and don’t find making it as daunting as people always assume it is. You just have to pay attention, not so difficult.

    What kind of grill pan do you have? I am thinking of getting one and would love to hear what you have to say about yours.

  2. Dave permalink
    January 27, 2009 8:50 pm

    Sage works really well in your stock, as you suspected. It’s also a very subtle taste in your risotto, and it went well with my brocolli risotto. It was a pork stock

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