Lemon, chicken & pea risotto
This has always been a dish that I regularly love to cook. I came up with this recipe for the first catering competition that I entered back in about 2010; The Paul Rankin Challenge. Back then it had pumpkin in as well, but I have adapted the recipe to make it a bit lighter. You can add most vegetables to this depending on your preference. Asparagus and wild garlic are lovely additions to really get that springtime feel.
300g arborio risotto rice, or carnaroli rice for a creamier risotto
1L hot chicken stock
2 large chicken breasts (or 3 small)
1 large shallot (or 1 small onion), finely diced
-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
150g mushrooms, finely diced
100g frozen petit pois
150ml white wine
2 lemons, 3 if you like things really lemony
100g parmesan, grated
½ bunch of chopped chives
Dice the chicken into medium sized chunks and add the juice from one of the lemons. Leave to marinate for approximately 30-60 minutes.
Heat a couple of splashes of oil in a pan and gently sweat the shallot for around 2 minutes until slightly softened, however, you don’t want any colour.
Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. If the vegetables are starting to look a little dry then add another splash of oil or a small knob of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are soft. Season the veg at this point (if you add salt to the raw mushrooms it will draw out the moisture and make the whole pan wet).
Add the risotto rice to the vegetables and stir for about a minute, coating the rice in the oil. Add the white wine and cook down until the wine is almost fully evaporated. Once all of the wine has been absorbed, start to slowly add the chicken stock, one ladle at a time. You need to wait for each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next, otherwise, you won’t get that creamy finish.
Carry on adding stock and stirring in for approximately 15-20 minutes. How much stock you add will depend upon how you like your risotto rice to be cooked. Some like it slightly al dente, some prefer it cooked all the way through. You may not need all the stock, but when you’ve nearly used it all, test a grain of rice to see if it’s cooked to your satisfaction. If you have run out of stock and wish to cook it slightly more, then add a splash of water.
Meanwhile, heat another frying pan with a small splash of oil in. You want this pan very hot, but not smoking. If the pan is smoking then the lemon juice will splatter everywhere. Add the chicken, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt, and cook for approximately 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces. You want the chicken to be browned all over, and the lemon juice to have almost created a glaze around the chicken. The meat should be just cooked, but it’s fine if it’s very slightly pink in the middle as you will finish this in the risotto later.
When the risotto is nearly cooked, add the chicken, the frozen peas and a good pinch of salt. Carry on cooking this until the peas are fully defrosted and the chicken is cooked through. If it starts to look a little dry, you may need to add another splash of stock.
Add the butter, the parmesan, the chives and the juice of half a lemon. Now’s time for your final taste, check for seasoning and if it needs that other half of lemon, add that now.
I personally like this dish to taste quite lemony so I always end up adding more lemon at the end. I like to serve this dish with a piece of buttered baguette, or crusty roll, which some might call sacrilege.