Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chicken, Artichoke + Sundried Tomato Risotto

When the cupboards go bare in our house and a trip to the grocery store is desperately needed, I always seem to get a creative bone to work with what I have. It's like having my own top chef challenge with myself.

Last weekend, our kitchen was literally OUT of all fresh ingredients. After a day full of cleaning, house projects and a baby that requires A LOT of attention, a trip to the grocery store was last on our agenda. I scoured the pantry and freezer to see what we could make into a meal and my Chicken, Artichoke and Sundried Tomato Risotto was born- all with staple items that are always in my kitchen.

 We don't eat much pasta or rice around here, but I always keep some arborio rice handy for times like these. Chicken broth is another pantry staple. I've been buying Trader Joe's frozen chicken breast tenders and make sure to always have a bag in my freezer. These little guys are great for stir fries, grilled atop a salad or turned into Giada's Crunchy Parmesan Chicken tenders. They thaw so quickly by just placing in a bowl of warm water from the kitchen faucet. Frozen artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes are the other two must have items in my kitchen- great for salads, tapenades and risotto of course!

Chicken, Artichoke + Sundried Tomato Risotto

1 cup arborio rice
1 large shallot, minced
1 lb. fresh or frozen chicken breast tenders, cut into large chunks
2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (or 1 can of quartered artichoke hearts)
4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (plus more water if needed)
A few turns of the pan of olive oil
salt and pepper to season
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Freshly grated parmesan 
Handful of fresh basil

Combine shallots and olive oil In a large French oven or saute pan. (drizzle oil until it just covers the entire bottom of the pan). Heat until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Slowly add chicken broth, a little at a time. Do not let the rice dry out. This is a slow process, but well worth the time and love. The risotto will be nice and creamy when it's done. You may need more than 4 cups of chicken broth. Instead of adding more broth, I just use water, or keep watering down the broth that I'm using until the risotto is done. 

While the risotto is cooking, warm some more olive oil on medium-high heat in a medium saute pan. Add artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes and heat through, about 5 minutes. Remove and add chicken. Saute until chicken is fully cooked.

When the risotto is done, fold in chicken, artichoke- sundried tomato mixture and fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper and finish with grated parmesan.

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