Sunday, September 4, 2011

Southwestern Risotto

As I mentioned yesterday, earlier last week I picked up a few pints of roasted hatch chile peppers intent on making two creative recipes with them. The first was the Hatch Chile Chicken Salad, and the second was this Southwestern Risotto. I have never before thought to use peppers of any variety in a risotto, having previously associated the dish with subtler flavor profiles such as mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, and the like. Thursday, however, as I was walking around the produce section at Central Market, Hatch peppers in hand I knew I wanted to see how it would taste in risotto.

So I picked up some corn and cherry tomatoes that I knew would complement the peppers well and picked up a chicken breast to bake and I was ready to give it a whirl. I decided to grill the corn to give a smokiness to the kernels and to go along with the roasted flavor of the peppers. Additionally, I roasted the tomatoes, largely because I much prefer the taste of tomatoes when they are cooked as opposed to raw. I baked a chicken breast half to add, but you could easily use meat from a rotisserie chicken or leftover baked chicken from the night before to simplify the process.

The result was absolutely delicious! The sweetness of the corn and tomatoes was the perfect contrast to the slight heat of the peppers. The chicken added a nice bit of protein, an essential component for any meal for my husband!

One quick note before the recipe. I recently purchased a jar of chicken bouillon for a recipe and it saved me from disaster on this meal! You see, I was well into the risotto process when I discovered I only had half of the chicken broth I needed for the recipe. When I remembered I had chicken bouillon on hand I mixed some up with water, heated it in the microwave and I was ready to go! Crisis averted! So all that to say, it's a good idea to keep some chicken bouillon on hand just in case you find yourself in need of chicken broth at the last minute!

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Southwestern Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Chardonnay
4 cups chicken broth, heated
1/2 cup chopped Hatch peppers, roasted and peeled
2 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

You will want to have the corn, chicken, tomatoes and peppers ready when you start the risotto process. Start with grilling the corn, I used my grill pan on the stove top to stay out of the heat. Heat the grill or grill pan over medium high heat and place the cobs directly on the grill.
Cook, turning every 2 minutes, for about 8-10 minutes until fully cooked.
Remove from the grill and cut the kernels from the cob. Place in a bowl and set aside.
While the corn is on the grill, cut the tomatoes in half and drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
If you purchase your hatch chile peppers already roasted, simply remove the skin and stem, chop and set aside. If you need to roast them yourself here's some great instructions.
Now that all the star ingredients are prepped, it's on to the risotto!
Melt a tablespoon of butter in a heavy bottomed large pot over medium- high heat.
Add the onions and saute until softened and browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.
Season with a little salt and pepper then add the cup of arborio rice and stir to coat with the oil.

Pour in the cup of Chardonnay and stir until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
 Add a 1/2 cup of warmed chicken broth at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding the next 1/2 cup. Repeat until the rice has reached the desired texture, not mushy but with a little bite like al dente pasta.
Add in the corn,
 hatch peppers,
 and tomatoes,  Stir to combine.
Serve in a bowl and enjoy with a glass of Chardonnay.

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