Garlic and herb roule stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto served with a mushroom and bacon risotto. It is still just chicken and rice. It is, however, quite a nice chicken and rice dish!
3 chicken breasts
6 slices of prosciutto
Garlic and herb roule (you could substitute for any flavored cream cheese)
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 tbs fresh thyme
2 rashers bacon
Mushrooms (as few or as many as you feel like)
White wine (about a glass for cooking, the remainder for the chef)
1.5-2 litres of vegetable or chicken stock
250g arborio rice
The first thing to do is get all your ingredients cut up and ready. Risotto is a wonderful dish and actually easy to cook, but it is labour intensive and you really don’t want to be trying to stuff chicken, chop mushrooms and stir risotto all at the same time. Trust me on this, I have been there many times. The first thing I usually do is fry off whatever I want to add to my risotto so bacon and mushroom in this case, you can do this whilst the risotto is cooking but I prefer to get it out the way and just heat it up before I’m ready to add it. Get the oven on to pre heat (Gas Mark 7), prepare your chicken and, finally, melt some butter in a nice big saucepan.
Chicken: get rid of any pent up aggression by covering with clingfilm and bashing it with a rolling pin until it is an even width (not too thin so don’t be over exuberant). Take a very sharp knife and slice a pocket in it, put your filling of choice into this pocket – a tablespoon of the roule is just about right for us. Once stuffed, lay out two of your slices of prosciutto and wrap it around a chicken breast. Repeat until all breasts are covered! Get a healthy size knob of butter melting.
There are several alleged ‘secrets’ to good risotto, nicely softened onions, good stock (use the best you can, during the winter I do try to make my own but not with any regularity, I use Bouillon powder as a general rule), frying the rice before adding the stock and so on. I have found that softening the onions (most importantly without browning them) had made a huge difference so once that butter is melted, throw in the onions. I use a mandolin to slice my onions which means they end up sort of absorbed into the risotto rather than a separate texture and/or taste, which I prefer in this case. Let the onion soften over a low heat, boil the kettle and make the stock up in a saucepan you can keep on a low heat too, and once you are ready to put the chicken in that pre-heated oven for 20ish minutes depending on their size, add the garlic to the onions. Give the onions and garlic another minute, turn the heat up slightly and add the rice.
Stir. You’ll be doing a lot of this but that’s what encourages the starch out the rice and gives that nice creamy texture. At this stage though you only have fat and rice, you are lightly toasting the rice until the ends are translucent. I never know if I do this for long enough but it’s generally no more than a couple of minutes, certainly not long enough for it to start sticking. Having poured yourself a glass of wine, pour a small glass into the risotto and stir until nearly all the liquid is absorbed then add two ladlefuls of stock to your pan.
Stir. And again. You don’t have to stir constantly but enough to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan and enough to encourage that starch out. Once you can drag your spatula or wooden spoon over the bottom of the pan and the risotto flows back like a wave at a beach, then add another ladle. Repeat the process of adding a ladleful and stirring in for about 20 minutes, at some point add the thyme leaves. As it’s relatively hardy, I added them at the same time as the first of the stock. For a more delicate herb I’d wait until the end. When the risotto is ready the grains should be soft but firm in the middle. Turn out the heat, add as much parmesan as you fancy (about a tablespoon for me), another healthy knob of butter and the bacon/mushroom mixture. Stir until the butter is melted and then cover and leave for one minute. By now your chicken should be ready. Serve on a warmed plate.
I had this with an Italian white wine called Fiano and available from Naked Wines. It was a nice enough match but not enough to wow me, I think the flavours of the chicken may have overwhelmed it slightly. It’s a shame as it’s one of my go to wines and I enjoyed it without food as well.