Monday, January 12, 2009

Mushroom Farro Risotto with Grilled Chicken

I love this healthier version of risotto. Using a whole grain instead of arborio rice works incredibly well, while keeping you true to your New Year's resolution. Farro has enough starch in it to release to creamy perfection when cooked, just like the rice used to make risotto. The result is delicious - rich and smooth.

I flavored this risotto with mushrooms and leeks and topped it with grilled chicken. Farro and other grains take a little while to cook, so it's best for a weekend meal. But finished with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese - it's well worth the wait.

Mushroom Farro Risotto with Grilled Chicken

Served 2.
Leftover Potential:  You can cook just the amount of chicken breast that you need.  There was enough risotto left for a snack after the initial dinner.

Mushroom Farro Risotto
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 leeks, finely sliced
1 1/4 cup farro
1/4 cup white wine
2 1/2 - 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 tbsp butter ***
parmesan cheese, grated, to taste***

1.  In a large, tall pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  In another pot, heat the stock over medium low heat.  This will help your risotto cook faster, as the liquid will be warm already and won't take time to heat in the cooking pot.
2.  Add the onion to the first pot and cook until translucent.
3.  Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Add the leeks and cook until beginning to wilt.
4.  Add the farro and cook briefly, stirring to combine with the other ingredients.  Add the wine and reduce over medium heat until completely gone, stirring constantly.
5.  Begin adding the stock in ladlefuls.  Allow to reduce almost completely (stirring constantly) before adding more stock.  Continue adding stock until the farro begins to get tender.
6.  Add the mushrooms, stir to combine.  Allow the mushrooms to become tender.
7.  Season with salt and pepper.
8.  Finish with butter, stirring to combine, and grated parmesan cheese.

*** You can leave these items out for a healthier option, but they really add a delicious creaminess to the dish. 

Grilled Chicken
2 chicken breasts
salt, as needed
pepper, as needed
flour, as needed to coat
1-2 tbsp olive oil

1.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and coat lightly with flour.
2.  In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the chicken and allow to cook until beginning to gain color, about 3 minutes, before turning over and finishing cooking on the other side.  The chicken should feel slightly firm to the touch.
3.  Slice the chicken on the bias, and serve on top of the risotto.  You can also top the dish with sliced pepperocini peppers, which add a little bit of acidity and spice. 

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