Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yum on a budget or Chicken Risotto

I am amused (on the odd occasion when I watch the news) by the relish with which the newsreaders talk about the Global Economic Crisis - or G.E.C. as I like to refer to it. In the true vein of "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!!" the G.E.C. is touted as the greatest disaster EVER.
As a student of history I think, "hmm - seem to recall a thing called The Great Depression - which did actually occur in living memory - and was, by all reports, just a tad more severe than what we are currently experiencing."
If my single mother Nanna was able to survive it without the benefit of social security - I am sure we can all manage just fine!
That is of course if we don't all die of swine flu first which the aforementioned newsreaders seem a little disappointed has fizzled so quickly.
All of which brings me to this. In the interests of economical housewifery (and yummy goodness) I bring you my stock pot. 1 kg of chicken wings in water to cover (costs about $2 and is therefore cheaper than the off the shelf stock you can buy). The end bits off the celery that you normally chuck out, some pepper and salt and herbs. If I buy fresh herbs there's always too much so I throw them into a plastic bag and into the freezer and then throw them into the stock pot when I'm making this. I also throw in an onion. Great tip from the domestic goddess herself (aka Nigella Lawson) - leave the skin on the onion - it makes your stock go a lovely golden colour. When I heard her say that the light bulb went on and I thought "D'oh! as a bit of a crafty chicky babe - you know that onion skins can be used to dye things!". Before my stock was always a bit pallid - not anymore thanks to Ms. Lawson.
Once it's all boiled up and smelling gorgeous I strain everything out - chuck out the celery and onion (profligate waste I know!). I take out the chicken and pull off the meat and throw out the chicken bones& skin - it's suprising how much meat comes off those wings!!! I put my stock in the fridge so that the fat comes to the top and solidifies so that I can skim it off easily.
Now you can, of course, turn this all into chicken soup - very nourishing and restorative for family members dying of swine flu (or, if they are men, of a common cold which is always "the flu") but I love chicken risotto with a passion - so that's what I use mine for. Chop up another onion and some bacon and saute in a pan. Add a packet of arborio rice (that's the proper rice you use to make risotto in case you didn't know).
Add a cup or two of the stock and stir it in till it's absorbed - then add some more and so on till the rice is soft. The secret to a good creamy risotto is to keep stirring all the way through cooking it. Sound painful but it's kind of relaxing (particularly if you are holding a glass of wine in the other hand as you do it and if you want to slurp a bit of the aforementioned wine into the risotto - well - who am I to argue?). Oh - and you can throw the bits of chicken from the wings back into the mix too.
My children hate mushrooms as much as I love them (the mushrooms that is - not the children) so I fry some up separately and add them to my bowl at the end (usually hidden underneath the risotto so they don't think that there are mushrooms in theirs.
In summer, when asparagus is in season I blanch some and add it right at the end. In winter a hand full or two of frozen peas chucked in at the end will do the same job and adds a bit of greenery to the scene. Pepper and salt and some parmesan over the top and need I say more? Guess what's for dinner tonight?

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