Risotto, Chicken and Squash – Oh My

  • Recipes: Roasted chicken breast with creamy butternut squash and chilli (page 187) & Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto (page 124)
  • Prep: Moderate
  • Taste: Good to Very Good
  • Trying to build off the momentum of starting the cooking challenge back up again last night (Back at ‘er Steak and Potatoes) I decided to make another two recipes on Friday night. I had already planned in advance to make the risotto dish and had the ingredients on hand but on the walk home from work I thought it would be nice to add some protein to the meal so, after a quick stop at the apartment to browse through the cook book, it was off to Whole Foods to pick up some organic chicken, oregano and chilli peppers.

    As it was Friday night I was not particularly concerned about having dinner ready when my partner gets home, which is normally around 5:30. Readers may find it a bit odd but we typically eat that early. It has been a habit of mine since I was young. I suppose it was because my brother and I were always at the baseball field during normal dinner hours and my Dad went to bed really early due to his work schedule, so my Mom always had dinner ready early. Anyway, to get back on track, I took my time in the prep of this meal and did a few extra things for these recipes. As an example, I used a vegetable peeler on the celery for the risotto to remove the fibres that always get stuck in everyone’s teeth. This is a trick that I picked up in a cooking class back in the day. It probably makes minimal difference in risotto as it is cooked until very tender but is a great idea when putting celery out on a veggie platter

    Aside from a few enhancements, such as peeling the celery, the prep for both of these recipes is quite simple. It is a touch time-consuming but no crazy knife skills are required. Cooking the dishes is equally as easy. I don’t know how many of you have made risotto before but I find it somewhat peaceful. Yes I said it. I mean you get the nice perfumed smell after adding the vermouth and the dial is turned down to low so the rice soaks up the stock ever so slowly. It is one of my favourite dishes to cook, although not when I am in a rush because it does take time! The chicken, while not quite as peaceful, was also simple. Aside from slicing the butternut squash as finely as possible, the dish is dead easy. Once you have the chicken tucked into a dish with the squash you put the entire concoction into the oven and let it cook for 25-30 minutes at 400. At this point I was able to crack a Singha. I figured if I could no longer be in South East Asia I would bring South East Asia to me.

    The risotto dish was the standout of the meal. The combination of asparagus, mint and lemon was surprisingly good. Add to that some parmesan and butter and you have one tasty dish. The chicken was also very good. Not quite as good as the last roasted chicken breast recipe we did, the one with asparagus and cherry tomatoes, but still very good. The chicken itself was cooked to perfection and was very moist. The dish lacked a little pizazz, which is why it is behind the risotto on this occasion.

    All in all I would make both of the dishes again. They are both high on my taste to effort scale (I just created this 2 seconds ago), which makes them both winners in my books.

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