Risotto is a classic that everyone should know, and this EASY creamy Chicken and Mushroom Risotto is one of my favourites. In this post, I bust a few risotto myths, including having to stand over the stove stirring constantly, the need to heat the chicken broth and add it gradually into the risotto.
The new way to make risotto that comes out just as creamy and just as delicious is here – and it’s so much easier, less washing up and far less labour intensive than the old way!
Risotto is one of my all time favourite foods. I feel like I say that about many recipes I’ve shared, but I really mean it. Really!!
I don’t make risotto as often as I want to because it’s carb heavy and I lack self control. And it’s just so easy to eat. When I say “easy to eat”, I mean that literally because it’s the type of food that I classify as great Couch Food. Being food you can eat with a spoon without taking your eyes off the TV screen.
Not that I’m encouraging you to eat dinner in front of the TV. But you know what I mean. Using a knife and fork to eat a steak dinner requires more concentration than eating risotto. 😉
HOW TO MAKE RISOTTO
Risotto is really easy to make, and you do not have to stir constantly and add hot broth gradually. But there are a few simple tips that make all the difference, as well as busting a few myths! 🙂
Arborio Risotto Rice – You must use risotto rice because it is starchier than other rice. If you don’t use risotto rice, you’ll end up with a pilaf instead of a creamy risotto!
Saute onion, garlic and the rice – Almost every savoury recipe I share starts with “saute garlic and onion”, and there’s a good reason for that – because it’s an essential flavour base. Risotto is no exception! Sautéing the rice in the soffrito of onion and garlic adds a slight nuttiness to the rice and also helps to ensure even cooking of each rice grain;
Tasty stock – If you want a tasty risotto, don’t use water. Full stop. The better the broth, the better the flavour. Homemade always rules. But store bought is what I usually use;
No need to heat the broth – I swear to you, I have made it both ways and you can not tell the difference whether you use hot or room temperature (even fridge cold) broth. The only difference is that it adds a couple of minutes to the cook time because when you add the stock, it takes time to heat up. To me, that is worth saving on washing up; and
No need to stir constantly and no need to gradually add broth – Busting another myth, there is no need to stand over the stove constantly stirring the risotto and you do not need to add the broth gradually if you make it in a large pot or skillet. I once made 2 risottos side by side to compare the difference between constantly stirring and gradually adding the broth versus adding most of the broth into the pot / skillet and only stirring it a couple of times and I could not tell the difference between the risottos.
However, in order to make a risotto without stirring constantly, you need to use a large pot or skillet (like pictured) so the rice spreads out in a fairly thin layer. I never understood the science behind why my risotto came out creamy even with minimal stirring and dumping all the stock in one go until I read this article by Kenji from Serious Eats: The Road to Better Risotto. He explained that traditionally, risotto is made in a fairly smallish saucepan so the rice is stacked deep and the liquid level is high (if you dump it all in at the same time). So in order for the rice to cook evenly, you need to stir and add the broth gradually.
I’ve always made my risottos in a skillet because I find it easier and better to sauté the ingredients that I stir into risottos. Which is why I’ve never had a problem making creamy risotto even though I barely stir and I add most of the (fridge cold) broth in one go!
So there you have it! The new way to make risotto – no need to heat the broth, no need to add it in gradually and barely any stirring, and the same end result: a gorgeous, creamy risotto!
CHICKEN & MUSHROOM RISOTTO
The new way to make risotto that comes out just as creamy as the traditional method: no heating up the broth, no need to add it gradually and no need to stir constantly! The bacon garnish is optional but honestly, it is so worth the effort. Also, I use the bacon fat in the pot to cook the chicken and mushrooms. Why waste the free flavour? 🙂
12 oz / 350g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite size pieces
13 oz / 400 g mushrooms, sliced (I use Swiss brown)
2 tbsp / 30g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely diced (brown, white, yellow)
½ cup / 125ml white wine (optional – sub with water or chicken broth)
1¼ cups / 250g arborio risotto rice (Note 1)
4 cups / 1 litre chicken broth/stock
½ cup / 35g freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 – 3 tbsp / 15 – 50g unsalted butter
Freshly chopped parsley
Heat 1 tsp oil in a pot or skillet (Note 2) over high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden. Transfer to small microwave-proof bowl.
Leave about 1 tbsp bacon fat in pot – discard excess. Add chicken* and cook until browned and cooked through. Transfer to separate bowl.
Add mushrooms* and cook until light golden. Add to bowl with chicken.
Turn heat down to medium and return pot to the stove. Add butter, and melt. Add garlic and onion. Sauté for 3 minutes or until softened.
Turn heat up to high, add rice and stir until the grains become partially translucent – no longer than 1 minute. (Note 3)
Add wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot (to get any brown bits), until the alcohol smell evaporates ~ 2 minutes.
Turn heat down to medium low. Add about 3 cups of stock. Then leave it, uncovered, stirring just once or twice, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Check firmness of rice and add ½ cup of stock at a time, stirring in between until absorbed, until the rice is cooked to your taste. (Note 4)
Add chicken and mushrooms back into the risotto towards the end, just to heat through.
Right at the end when the risotto is ready, add a splash of chicken broth to make the risotto to make it slightly soupy, then take it off the stove.
KEY STEP: Add butter (the more the better!) and parmesan, then stir vigorously (activates the starch and makes it super creamy). The excess liquid will evaporate quickly, so add more if you want a soupier risotto, like what you get at posh restaurants.
Serve IMMEDIATELY!! (Note5) Garnish with reheated bacon, and extra parmesan and parsley if desired.
* The amount of oil required depends on how fatty the bacon and chicken is. If you use lean bacon and chicken breast, you’ll need 1 tbsp of oil for cooking the chicken and mushrooms (for each step).
a) Start taste testing after you add around 3 cups of liquid to the risotto to see if the rice is ready, It should be firm, not soft.
b) Add a splash of stock at the very end to make it soupier than you want because then it needs to be taken off the stove to stir vigorously to activate the starch and make it creamy, and in this step that extra liquid you added will evaporate quickly. Posh restaurants make the risotto very soupy, so soupy that it spreads out on a plate like a thick soup and flows when you tilt the plate. It’s extremely rich (they use LOTS of butter), so this home version is creamy, not stodgy, but not as soupy as posh restaurants. Make it to your taste!
1. Risotto must be made with risotto rice, called Arborio Rice. Arborio is starchier than other types of rice which is essential for making creamy risotto. This recipe won’t work with normal rice – you’ll end up with a pilaf instead of risotto!
2. In order to use this “no stir” method of cooking risotto, you MUST use a large pot or deep skillet so the rice and liquid is spread out. This will not work in a saucepan as the liquid and rice will be too deep.
3. Do not over toast the rice. Over toasted rice = lose creaminess because it skills the starch.
4. The “proper” way is for the rice to be just cooked and still firm, but not hard. If you run out of chicken broth, switch to the hot water in the kettle. You may not use all the chicken stock.
5. Risotto continues to absorb liquid and will become gluggy if left out. So eat immediately! Use leftovers to make Arancini Balls – classic fried method or baked.
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings. These are rather generous serving sizes – it reduces to 526 calories if you assume 5 servings.