As a general rule we plan our meals a week in advance. It’s not something we’ve always done, I admit, but we’ve finally made a habit of it. And it’s stuck.
There are plenty of advantages that come from thinking ahead. The biggest benefit is that it means we always have a shopping list in hand when we go to the supermarket. Gone are the days of walking up and down the aisles looking for inspiration and getting frustrated when it doesn’t come. We’ve saved both time and money as a result.
It also guarantees that we’re always going to have some variety in what we eat. We talk about the foods that we’ve been craving and rule out things that we really don’t want to see anywhere near the dining table.
As it’s me who does the cooking I tend to lead the conversation and bounce ideas off of Michael. His face immediately lets me know whether or not I’m on to a winner. He’s a bit more discerning, whereas my general approach is that if it can legally sold for human consumption then I’ll give it a go. That being said there are times when he can be quite insistent on what he wants for dinner… This risotto came into being on the back of one sentence.
“I really fancy something with pesto in it”.
You can’t deny that I delivered on that front. Indeed, there’s quite a lot of pesto in here when you add up what’s in the chicken and what’s in the rice. Fortunately, it’s not too much – so the flavour remains bold but not overpowering.
With this recipe I also decided to cook the rice and chicken separately, serving the latter across the top. This was a conscious decision as I wanted to let the person eating decide what they wanted in each mouthful. It was absolutely the right call, in my opinion.
Oh and whilst the crispy prosciutto slices over the top may look a bit like overkill, trust me that they are almost essential. Their dry salty flavour is the ideal companion to the rich, herbal pesto beneath. Plus, as they’re so easy to make you’d be a bit mad to miss them out.
Pesto Chicken Risotto with Crispy Prosciutto
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Shallot peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
- 2 Skinless and Boneless Chicken Thighs cut into 1cm pieces
- 150 g Arborio Rice
- 100 ml Vermouth or Dry White Wine
- 500 ml Good Quality Chicken Stock kept warm
- 4 slices Prosciutto Crudo
- 3 tbsp Pesto
- 25 g Parmesan grated
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°
- Put a frying pan over a medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the shallot to the pan and sauté for 10 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic then fry for a further minute, followed by the chicken thighs. Stir fry for a further 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir through half of the pesto and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, lay the slices of prosciutto out onto a baking sheet and put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t burn.
- Whilst the prosciutto is crisping make the risotto. Heat a second pan over a medium-high heat and add the remaining olive oil. Pour in the rice and stir in the oily mixture until well coated, then cook for a couple of minutes until the ends of each grain have turned slightly translucent.
- Pour in the vermouth, or wine. It will bubble vigorously but you want to keep stirring the rice constantly until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a generous ladle of the stock into the pan and stir continuously.
- When almost all of the stock has been absorbed add another ladle to the pan, continuing to stir the rice. Repeat this process until the rice is almost cooked through and it has created a rich, creamy coating – this should take around 15-18 minutes. You may not need all of the stock – so proceed with caution to avoid making the risotto too wet.
- When the rice is tender and cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and stir through the remaining pesto and parmesan. The heat of the rice should melt the cheese and heat the pesto through.
- Divide the risotto between two serving bowls. Top each with half of the chicken and shallot mixture, then garnish with the crispy prosciutto.