Wednesday, March 30, 2011

what's for dinner - risotto & potato focaccia

late yesterday afternoon, i had just turned on the oven to preheat before putting in the bread for a little dinner party we were having on a tuesday, since friends from manila were in town. suddenly, everything went dark. i thought that in this old house, since i had the dishwasher and my mixer going, that turning on the oven was too much and i'd blown a fuse. i went out to the new fuse board and flipped a few switches. nothing. the four guests would arrive in just over an hour and i had nothing finished to feed them. so i called husband in a panic. while i was photographing the electrical board for him and getting ready to send it through, the neighbor came by to ask if our electricity was out too. turned out it was the whole area and not my fuses at all! yay! or not, because who knew how long it would take before it came back on?

my planned menu was pretty simple - a potato focaccia, chicken risotto and a big salad. happily, husband recently built me a gas stovetop, so i didn't electricity to get on with the risotto.

risotto is my go-to dish at least once a week, especially in the winter. it's warming, hearty and lends itself to whatever you have at hand - you can add leftover chicken, peas, asparagus, leeks, mushrooms, safran - whatever you want, really. it's filling and all it really needs to go with it is a salad. plus, it makes great leftovers.  the first couple of times, it can be slightly temperamental, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy.

chicken leek risotto

3 C of chicken broth (preferably homemade, but it's ok to use a bouillon cube and hot water)
1 C good quality white wine (if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it)
1 C risotto rice 
3 leeks, finely sliced and rinsed well
olive oil
2 C chopped roast chicken
1/2 C creme fraiche (optional)
fresh parmesan for grating over the top

put the broth in one pan and heat it up to simmer. meanwhile, melt a good knob of butter and a glug of olive oil and sauté off the leeks. it's ok to have more oil than you'd normally think is ok, because next you're going to add the rice and it should be well-coated in the butter-olive oil mixture. stir until the rice goes a bit translucent, then add the white wine. stir and once the rice absorbs the white wine, begin to add the warm bouillon one ladle at a time. stirring frequently, but not necessarily constantly. once you've added all of the bouillon and it's been absorbed (which takes 20+ minutes), stir in the chicken and creme fraiche and allow them to warm through. serve with fresh parmesan grated on top.  it will be quite creamy, even without the creme fraiche, so that's optional.

the focaccia recipe was posted here.  this time, i sliced 3 small potatoes very thinly (you can do it with a mandolin, tho' i just used the slicing bit of my big hand grater, since i have developed a strange fear of my mandolin), sprinkled them over the top with some dried rosemary and flaky salt.

they went all yummy and a bit potato chip-like on top of the bread.

happily, the electricity came back on and i was able to bake the bread so that it came out of the oven just as they arrived. sometimes you just get lucky.

the salad was simply a package of mixed leaves, a handful of tomatoes, an apple, half a cucumber, diced and a package of blueberries. for dressing, i drizzled a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  i served a south african chardonnay with the meal.

p.s. utterly neglected to photograph the risotto. sorry about that!


Lynn said...

Yum! I want some of that potato focaccia now! I hate that my husband is so carb-averse. I am going to bookmark this meal for the next time he is out-of-town...

Cally said...

Oooh, bad idea to read this when I'm hungry; it all sounds delicious! I'm definitely going to try that risotto :)


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