Cooking Lessons: Curry Risotto with Tandori Chicken

My cooking lessons continued last week with a slightly more complicated dish.  My friend had just gotten back from vacation and had tried an unusual dish while abroad: chicken curry risotto.  I love risotto and I love Indian food so it made perfect sense to combine these two into one dish: Italian-Indian fusion? Might just be the next new thing…

Risotto is classic Italian comfort food.  It is a rice dish from northern Italy that is cooked slowly until it develops a creamy consistency.  For those who like to constantly be doing something while they cook, this is the dish for you.

It starts by sautéing an aromatic element such as onion and garlic- we also used ginger to add an Indian flavor.  You then add the arborio rice (a short grain rice with capacity to absorb a lot of liquid) and wine to deglaze the pan.  Once the wine has reduced the fun begins!  Little by little, you add broth to the pot and stir constantly until all the broth is absorbed.  You repeat this process until the rice is “al dente” and creamy.

We made a curry broth by adding spices to chicken broth but you can use any flavor variation to make a risotto of your choice: vegetable, beef, mushroom, seafood, etc.  Oftentimes the risotto is finished off with lemon juice, cheese (goat cheese, parmesan, blue cheese), fresh herbs, or cream.  Make sure to season as you go and serve immediately or else the risotto will continue to cook and become a mushy mess! (and if you have any leftovers save it to make arancini the next day!)

Curry Risotto with Tandori Chicken

(serves 6)

For the Tandori Chicken (from Fine Cooking):

8 bone-in chicken thighs
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 medium lemons)
1 Tbs. peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. garam masala
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 lemon, cut in half

For the curry risotto:IMG_1377

6 cups of chicken broth
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
3 Tbs curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 Tbs olive oilIMG_1374
1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs ginger, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)

For the Tandori chicken:

Remove the skin and trim excess fat from the chicken. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut three or four long, diagonal slits on each thigh against the grain, almost to the bone.

In a large, shallow bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, garam masala, kosher salt, and cayenne. Add the chicken, turning to coat and making sure that the marinade gets into all of the slits in the chicken. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Transfer the chicken from the marinade to the baking sheet, spacing the thighs evenly. Discard any remaining marinade. Roast until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced and an instant-read thermometer in a meaty part of a thigh registers 170°F, about 45 minutes

Squeeze the lemon halves over the chicken. Let it cool for about 20-30 min before using for the risotto. (may be refrigerated at this point if making ahead) Once cooled, remove chicken from bones and cut into bite sized pieces.

For the curry risotto:

Make the broth by adding the chicken broth, coconut milk, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, tomato paste, and sugar into a medium pot and whisking until blended.  Heat to a simmer and cover.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs butter and the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms and cook for another minute.  Add some salt and pepper to taste (I like to season as I go to add layers of flavor).

Add the rice to “toast” it, and stir for about 1 minute.  Add the white wine and let reduce for about a minute, while stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Ladle about 1 cup of the curry broth into the rice and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently.  Once the liquid is absorbed, continue adding broth, a 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, stirring frequently the whole time.  Continue this until rice is creamy and tender, and most of the broth (if not all) is used, about 25-30 minutes.

Stir in lemon juice, remaining 2 Tbs butter , salt and pepper to taste and finally the chicken to rewarm it.  Serve immediately and top with cilantro.