This dish is the perfect marriage of Italian comfort food (risotto) and American comfort food (chicken soup). I made it for the second time on Sunday, and it did, in fact, improve my emotional status.
Chicken thighs, carrots, and mushrooms were all on sale last week. Mom had celery remains that needed to be used up or forsaken and flat-leaf parsley from her patio herb garden ready to harvest.
My favorite Chicken Soup Risotto seemed the perfect choice for Sunday dinner, plus lunch for the week, until I realized midday that I had no chicken stock, or even chicken bones, in the freezer. And so my simple comfort food became an all-day affair of roasting the chicken and making the stock.
The aroma of roast chicken, celery, and onions in my apartment was literally intoxicating – for my cat, Atticus “Tigger” Meowington. When he wasn’t shamelessly begging for chicken in the kitchen, he was lolling about, belly up on the dining room carpet, tongue sticking out and legs splayed in all directions.
Of course, it worked. As I shredded the chicken I left bits in Tigger’s food dish. Look, I’m not made of stone.
Recipe after the fold
Chicken Soup Risotto
4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Peels and scraps from carrots, onions, and celery (I keep a bag of veggie scraps in the freezer for stock)
1 tbsp chicken fat
2 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
8 oz mushrooms, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
½ tsp ground thyme
½ tsp rubbed sage
½ tsp kosher salt
5 cups homemade chicken stock
½ an onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350⁰. Place the chicken thighs on a baking sheet, skin side up, and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt. Roast for 40-50 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool.
When the chicken is cool enough to touch, separate the meat from the skin and bones, wrap up the meat, and refrigerate.
Add the skin and bones to a stock pot along with the veggie scraps, and cover with water. Bring the water to a near-boil, and immediately reduce heat to low. Simmer for several hours, skimming the scum from the top of the stock with a spoon several times each hour.
Strain the stock, discard the solids, and cool the stock in the fridge. (There are rules about how to properly cool down the stock to kill bacteria or something. I don’t know what those rules are.)
When the fat has solidified on top of the stock, skim it off with a spoon. Reserve a tablespoon of the chicken fat to sauté the vegetables.
Heat chicken fat over medium heat, and sauté celery, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms. Stir in seasoning and set aside. The carrots ended up pretty firm, which I rather liked. If you want them softer like the other veggies, sauté them for a few minutes before adding the celery, garlic, and mushrooms.
Simmer chicken stock over medium low heat.
Sauté onion in butter and olive oil for three minutes. Add rice and toast for two minutes. Stir in 1 cup stock; cook and stir until liquid is absorbed. Gradually stir in remaining stock 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.
Shred the chicken with two forks and add to the risotto. Stir in parmesan cheese and sautéed veggies. Top each serving with fresh parsley.
[EDITED TO ADD: Tom is right — white wine is delicious in risotto. It adds a bit of acidity, cuts through the richness, and deepens the flavor. After toasting the risotto, stir in 1/4 cup dry white wine. When the wine is 75% absorbed, add the first ladleful of stock. Unless you’re broke like me, in which case you can skip it altogether.]