I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys today, because risotto is my hands-down most favorite thing to eat for dinner. Which is a pretty big statement for me to make, considering how much I love to eat. I first learned how to make risotto in a high school cooking class, and although it’s a dish that’s a little tricky to master, it is so worth learning how to make.
Risotto is an Italian dish that utilizes fat, short-grained white rice that is high in starch. Although there are multiple types of rice that can be used when making risotto, I’ve found that the Arborio variety produces the best dish, at least in my oh-so humble opinion.
Instead of adding all the liquid to the rice at once (like you do when you normally make rice), liquid is added just a little at a time, while stirring constantly, which allows the rice to release it’s starches and become smooth and creamy.
Now I’m not going to lie to you guys… this is a time-consuming dish to make. From start to finish, I think it takes me right around an hour, maybe a little more. And this isn’t one of those dishes you can get started on and forget about for a while. No, no… you’re pretty much chained to the stove the entire time it’s cooking. I know, I know, I’m not making it sound like very much fun. But you’ll just have to trust me when I say that I promise you, it’s worth it in the end.
The truly great thing about risotto is that once you get the process down, the possibilities are endless. Adding chicken and parmesan cheese is just one option. I’ve eaten scallop risotto, lobster risotto, sun-dried tomato risotto, even mushroom risotto (and you guys know how much I hate mushrooms).
If I’m planning on making risotto on a weeknight, I’ll often cook and cut the chicken up ahead of time. That’ll save you a good 10-15 minutes or so of prep time, and you can get started on the rice right away. Otherwise, this dish is usually reserved for the weekends when I have a little more time and I’m not starving to death after work.
Back when I was a single gal, I used to make a double batch of this stuff and eat it for every meal for a week or two straight. That’s how much I love this risotto. The great thing is, it’s a very filling dish. You don’t need to eat a ton to feel like you’ve gotten enough for dinner. Pair it with some steamed veggies or a side salad for a well-rounded meal.
Parmesan Chicken Risotto
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
- 7 cups water
- 7 cubes chicken bullion
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 tsp Italian blend seasoning
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper (I occasionally add garlic powder and Italian blend seasoning too) and bake 30-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and a meat thermometer read 165 when inserted into the thickest part of the breast (You could also grill or pan-fry the chicken. Your choice!). Allow chicken to cool and cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
- Pour water and chicken bullion into a large dutch oven or stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer (Note: you can use chicken stock or chicken broth for this portion instead of water & chicken bullion, if desired).
- In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion and saute until soft. Add minced garlic, then rice. Toast rice in olive oil, stirring constantly to prevent burning, for about 2 minutes.
- Add white wine. Stir constantly until wine has been absorbed.
- Add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to the rice. Stir constantly until broth has been absorbed. Continue to add broth 1/2 cup at a time until rice has doubled in size and is cooked al dente (See notes at bottom).
- Add chicken to rice and stir until chicken warmed through. Mix in parmesan and mozzarella. Stir in black pepper and Italian seasoning.
Note #1: When making risotto, it’s important not to add too much liquid too quickly. A good way to tell if your rice is ready for more liquid is to drag your mixing spoon / spatula down the middle of the pan through the rice. If your rice slides back together right away or you see liquid, it’s not ready for more broth yet. If your rice stays parted for a second or two and then slowly starts to slide back together, it’s time to add more liquid.
Note #2: I rarely use the entire amount of the chicken broth I’ve heated up. You only want to continue adding liquid until the rice is cooked- add too much and your rice will become gummy. I usually have 1/2-1 cup of broth leftover that I end up throwing out, but I always make sure I heat up more broth than I think I’ll need because you never want to add cold liquid to the rice when cooking risotto. Cold liquid takes longer and is more difficult for the rice to absorb. Once you get down to your last 2ish cups of rice, do a taste test every once in a while. Your rice will tell you when you’ve added the right amount of broth.