One of Steve’s favourite high-carb dishes. No quantities, because it is done “au feeling” as the French say — just use your common sense, depending on how much leftover chicken you have and how many people you are feeding.

arborio rice (1 cupful is about enough for two servings)
1 small onion, or a shallot
1 clove garlic
scraps of cooked chicken (e.g. left over from a roast)
dried mushrooms
fresh mushrooms
lots of butter
Parmesan cheese (or Gruyère at a pinch)
white wine
chicken stock
salt & pepper
saffron (optional)

Don’t try to use anything other than proper Italian risotto rice — it won’t work. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for at least an hour before you want to make the risotto. Melt a good-sized lump of butter in a heavy-based pan, finely chop the onion, and let it soften without browning. Meanwhile bring the stock to a simmer in another pan, and keep it on a low heat. Add the rice to the onion and stir to coat the rice with butter. Add the garlic, whacked with the blade of a heavy knife to crush it. Then pour in some white wine (about a glassful will do for a two-person risotto) and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is almost absorbed. If you are using saffron you can add it now. Then start adding the stock and the liquid from soaking the mushrooms, a ladleful or so at a time. When each lot is almost absorbed, add some more and keep doing this until the rice is cooked (30-40 minutes). Towards the end of this time add the chicken, dried mushrooms, and sliced fresh mushrooms. Taste and add salt and pepper as required. The finished risotto should be slightly gloopy, without being either dry or stodgy. When it’s ready, add lots more butter and the grated parmesan and stir in till they are melted. If you’ve made enough to have leftovers (we always do) it’s better to add the cheese and butter to the plates after serving, as the remains are easier to reheat and less prone to stick without the cheese. Serve immediately, on hot plates.

Note: I’ve recently discovered that a pressure-cooker is a great labour-saver for making risotto and gives excellent results. Simply prepare as above, but after adding and reducing the wine, pour in all of the stock (you need about 3 times the volume of rice, so use the same cup to measure it), add the chicken and mushrooms, bring up to pressure, and steam for 6 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally.

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