Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Eaten Back to Life

Interesting fact: there are no good Italian bands.

One of my favourite things to do is to make interesting recipes using leftovers - particularly roast chicken carcasses.  All too often we throw them away even though there are so many nice piss-easy recipes you can make with them.  For this recipe I'll describe how to make the stock and the risotto, but the stock is useful for many other recipes too and tastes way better than stock cubes.

Ingredients (stock - makes about 1.5 litres):
  • 1 x leftover roast chicken carcass
  • 2 x sticks of celery
  • 1 x large onion
  • 2 x carrots
  • 1 x leeks
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 1 x tbsp olive oil
Ingredients (risotto - serves 4)
  • 400g arborio/carnaroli rice
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • A few handfuls of kale leaves
  • Chicken stripped from the carcass
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms
  • 6 x slices of good quality streaky bacon/pancetta
  • 1 x red onion
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • A few sprigs of lemon thyme
  • Glass of dry white wine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A few knobs of butter
  • 100g freshly grated parmesan (not the powdered or ready grated crap

1) To make the stock, strip all the chicken meat from the carcass and set it aside in the fridge.  Heat the oil and chuck all the roughly chopped veg into a big saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the onions, leeks and celery have softened.  Don't bother peeling anything as long as it's clean.  Then chuck the chicken carcass in, cover with water, add the bay leaves and bring it to the boil.  Simmer briskly for about 2 hours and skim it occasionally.  Don't add seasoning at this stage as you will season the final product.  If you want to make this in advance, let it cool, then strain it and chill it in the fridge, where it will keep for a few days.

2) When you're ready to start the risotto, make sure you have your stock to one side in a saucepan and keep it hot.  Finely dice the onion, slice the mushrooms and chop the bacon/pancetta into small strips.  Heat the bacon in a heavy-based saucepan so that it goes crispy and the fat renders down, stirring and adding a little butter if necessary to stop it sticking too much, then add the onion and mushrooms and cook them gently until it's softened.  Next, add the rice for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time, and add the wine to deglaze the pan.

3) Using your wanking arm, keep stirring the rice at all times - this releases the starch and gives it its creamy texture. When the wine has almost entirely evaporated, lower the heat to medium and add a ladle of stock and the lemon thyme, tied together with an elastic band.   When that has evaporated, add another ladle, and so on, for about 12 minutes until the rice is al dente.  Add the seasoning little by little and don't be too overzealous with the salt as this recipe contains bacon (which is obviously salty), parmesan and chicken that's already been seasoned from the first time it got cooked.

4) Chop up the kale and stir it into the risotto, along with the reserved chicken, for the last few minutes of cooking.  Beat in some cold butter and the parmesan right at the end - this is called a mantecatura and it makes a silky smooth risotto.

5) Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and serve it to your girlfriend, who will love you.

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