Monday, March 26, 2012

Barley Risotto with chicken, exotic mushrooms, caramelized onions

My co-worker ran up to my desk last week.  Quick Ed!  I have guests coming and I want to make something to impress them, but it has to be quick and easy!  I started tossing out ideas and she shot them all down until I said - Risotto with Chicken and Wild Mushrooms.  

So here's a demonstration of how I do the risotto.  One thing I did though was changed it up from using Arborio rice to using Barley.  I like using Barley as it's a whole grain and it has a bit more texture than rice.  I like that grainy texture in multi-grain bread so barley gives that same sort of feel but in rice form.

So what you need is a package of exotic mushrooms, chicken breast, onions, parmesan cheese, and the barley/arborio rice.

First thing you want to do is slice up the onions and get it on the stove in some olive oil on medium low.  Sprinkle some salt on it to help draw out the water.

Then get some chicken stock simmering.  You'll need about 1/2 to 3/4 of the carton for 1 serving.

Then cut up the chicken into chunks, season with salt, pepper, and thyme and sear on medium high.  Once you put it on the pan don't touch it for at least 2 min!

Finally heat up some olive oil on medium and then toast the barley or arborio rice.  1 portion is about 1/2 a cup.

Here I'm toasting the barley, searing the chicken, caramelizing the onions, simmering the chicken stock.

Flip the chicken over and cook the other side for at least 2 min.  Then check if it's done.  If not then keep cooking until they're cooked, then set aside.

When the chicken is cooked, start browning the mushrooms in the same pan.  Give it a rough chop.

After the rice / barley is toasted a bit, pour in some dry white wine unti it's just covered.  Let it cook off and then start ladling in the simmering chicken stock 1 ladle at a time while stirring, stirring, stirring.  Let each ladle of chicken stock cook off before ladling in more.

Let the onions keep caramelizing, stirring it every once in awhile.

When the mushrooms are browned enough, bring down the heat to low and return the chicken to the pan just to keep them warm.

After about 20-25 min of cooking the rice / barley, taste it.  It should be cooked but not mushy.  Sort of al dente but instead of pasta it's rice.  Turn off the heat and then stir in the chicken and mushrooms.  Stir in shredded parmesan cheese.

Plate the risotto and place the caramelized onions on top, and garnish with chopped parsley.

In this picture you can see I messed up the onions.  I didn't think it was getting caramelized fast enough so I cranked up the heat.  It ended up being more like crispy onion straws instead of soft sweet caramelized onions.  Next time I'll keep the onions at medium low.  From start to finish it took around 40 min.  But that didn't include clean up time!

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