Thursday, 17 October 2013

An Easy Monday Night Dinner

One of the hardest things is getting home from work, tired and then facing having to cook food. It's even worse in the winter when its pitch black and the house is cold. Thats partly why I have an awful addiction to eating out. Someone makes you the food and your usually with friends. Winning combo. (Spot the girl who lived by herself for 6 months...)

However there are lots of things that are really easy, tasty and don't take forever. Yes, I know I sound like Jamie Oliver but the guy has a point (even if he uses too much olive oil). Having said that, his 30 minute book is a total ball ache to use. Seriously Jamie, what is up with those instructions.
NO ONE REALLY WORKS LIKE THAT. The first time I tried one of the recipes it took me like, 2 hours. 30 mins my ass. However, once you've made the recipe a couple of times, you don't need the book and you can ad lib a bit more, make it your own and in the end just get your dam supper on the table.

This is what I love about cooking so much. You can have a recipe, but it doesn't mean you have to stick with it. Unless you're baking, thats a science, don't mess with that. I have so many cook books but I rarely stick to a whole recipe, I mainly just read the books to get ideas and look at the pictures.

So here's a recipe that we made on Monday night when Lucy decided to drop round as a certain TV program was starting again. I won't embarrass all of us by telling you what it was...

Pesto Chicken Risotto

You will need....

Risotto rice, we went for arborio
Chicken breasts
A Stock Cube
An Onion
Some wine (thats if you don't drink it all before you start cooking, at the same time its also not essential)

Chop your garlic and onion fairly finely. We used red here as we had a whole bag of them but you can use whatever you wish.

Tip: The best way to get an even dice on your onion is to cut it in half through the root but leave the root attached. The slice length ways down the onion and then across. By leaving the root in it keep it all together and everything is roughly the same size.

Heat some oil in a relatively high sided frying pan and chuck in the garlic and onions. You don't want the onions or garlic to brown as it will make the risotto look a bit grim, so sweat them gently as opposed to frying them. Chucking in some salt at this point will draw the moisture out of the onions which helps them sweat.

The pour in the rice, I can't give you a measurement as I guessed, but I think this was about 3/4 a 500g box of rice....

Give it a good stir round to get it all mixed in with the onions and oil and let it fry a little. Make up the stock at this point, about 500ml, again I didn't measure anything, its a guessing game. When the rice has turned slightly translucent pout in a bit of the stock. 

I actually used porcini stock I discovered in Italy, thanks to Harri. It's amazing in risottos, I have never seen it here and I have a cheeky supply from Italy but when that runs out I'll have to hunt it down. If you don't have a supply of italian stock cubes, chicken or veg will do.

Now here is where risotto ideas can differ. Some people stay to stand at the pan, to attention and continuously stir and caress the risotto with love an affection and drizzle the stock in slowly. Others say stir once and leave and only stir when you put in the stock bits at a time. I say life is too short to caress risotto and I just stir it when I want so I know it's not sticking to the bottom of the pan and I dump in the stock, usually in 3 batches. Sometimes if I'm feeling super lazy I dump it all in and wander off and come back every now and then. 

While your risotto is simmering away on a low heat, chop your chicken.

Cook off in another pan. Again I didn't really allow this is fry because I didn't want the colour on it. Season! 

Now if you havn't already, crack open the wine and pour some in the pan...

and a glass for yourself. You're doing all the hard work after all. 

In fact at this point, make someone do something useful, like Maddie, who made the salad. She even peeled the cucumber, how posh. 

If you are not sure how far along your rice is, try a bit, if its still too crunchy add some more stock or if you have run out, just add some boiling water. 

If its pretty much done, season the rice well

and add the chicken 

Now for the fun.... pimping time as old Jezzy O would say.

A good old grating of parmesan 

and a big dollop of pesto 

Mix all together and taste. Add more pesto or cheese depending on what you want, not what a recipe book says. It's your dinner after all. 

Dish out into 3 bowls and serve up. From start to finish, with a lot of chatting in between I reckon this took 45 mins max. See, hardly complicated and no staring at cook book. 

Remember this could be anything. Bacon and Pea risotto. Butternut Squash and Goats cheese. Mushroom.

All you need for a basic risotto is risotto rice, stock, onion, garlic and parmesan. Then add in your flavourings. Simples. 

Let me know what you come up with!! 


  1. Yum! Deffo trying this tonight ;) x

  2. Hurray! Let me know how you get on! xx

  3. This looks so yummy!

    You're right, no one cooks like he does in book. I just find the way he even sets out the directions really unhelpful!!

    Hmm maybe...

  4. Once you know a recipe it gets faster and faster. Best thing to do is to read the recipe a couple of times before you start so you can get the jist, then just do what you want with it. Cookbooks should be guide lines or help guides not bibles!! Dont follow it to the letter, that way you can make it your own.