A recipe for Chicken Ham and Leek Risotto – more than a Hug in a Mug:
As the dark nights close in and the weather gets wintery, I yearn for comfort food. Asda were kind enough to send me one of their new extra tasty roast in a bag chickens to try the other day but, even if I have a friend over for supper, a roast chicken leaves me with lots of leftovers. The Asda Extra Tasty Chicken comes pre-packed in a roasting bag that you pierce and then put in the oven – so there’s no chance of any mess. And, for me, less temptation to make roast potatoes (not very 5:2 diet friendly). The wrapper told me that it was ‘basted’ with various spices and flavour. The result was a very moist chicken (9% water) not unlike the ‘brined’ poultry and ham that our friends in the US are so fond of. Brining is a process of leaving meat in a heavy solution of salt and flavouring for 24 hours so that the liquid permeates the skin or fat and the end result is flavoured and moist. You can do it at home (Nigella is a big fan of brined turkey) but it’s rather messy and quite time consuming.
However the roast in the bag chicken was created in the Asda kitchen, the result was good. While the skin didn’t crisp up as well as I might have liked, it would be quite easy to open the bag for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking. And the meat was beautifully flavoured and very moist. Would I buy it again? yes if I was staying with a friend or on holiday and wanted to keep their oven pristine, or if I knew I didn’t want any kind of roast vegetables or yes if I didn’t want to have to think about how to flavour the chicken myself. It’s excellent value, very easy to cook and the result is definitely tasty. But it’s not organic or free range – although at £5 for a large chicken that would be remarkable.
After our roast dinner, there were plenty of leftovers, so I boiled up the bones of the chicken to make stock and used half to make a delicious and warming chicken, ham and leek risotto. I have a feeling I was supposed to follow the recipe printed on the underneath of the roasting bag, but since I threw that away when I served the roast dinner, I failed to do anything more than notice it was a recipe for some kind of risotto. And, I do know how to make risotto – my way. Almost certainly the kind of Italian cookery that would have the entire female population of Italy in revolt, it’s my ultimate comfort food.
I have a few simple rules that I’ve picked up from various sources and follow when I am making a risotto.
- I DO use home made stock. I’ve tried with stock cubes of various sorts and with stock powders but never get the same result. For me, e-Cuisine is about the best stock powder for flavour but lacks the gelatinous quality of a home made fresh stock. So – no fresh stock, no risotto!
- Good risotto rice is essential – not long grain.
- I probably don’t stir quite as much as I should. But I do stir throughout the cooking process to release the starches from the rice.
- My risotto is always made on the stove top. I’ve tried an oven baked recipe and it simply isn’t the same.
- Depending on the main ingredients I add parmesan, creme fraiche or cream and salt and pepper at the end.
- I always let the risotto sit for 5 minutes once the rice is just cooked.
Other than that, making risotto is something where I let my imagination determine the flavours. I added in a little ham this time to complement the leeks. Risotto is a lovely simple supper dish that has more substance than a home made soup but doesn’t actually cost much more.
All in, a medium to large roast chicken should stretch to main meals for a family of four on two nights if you use the bones for stock and make something like risotto. And, if you are lucky there will be enough stock left to make a hearty winter soup too. Not bad for a fiver.
I’m sending this to Michelle from Utterly Scrummy who is hosting this month’s Credit Crunch Munch (and who never ceases to amaze me with her family meal plans!) , a money saving recipe linky set up by Camilla from FabFood4All and Helen from FussFreeFlavours
Disclaimer: I was provided with an Extra Tasty chicken by Asda. All views expressed are my own.