Monday, June 14, 2010

Barcelona Chicken and Spinach Risotto

Friday's dinner. This recipe didn't use up any of my Pinckney's stash from Thursday, but it did take care of a bag of spinach that wasn't long for this world. I also had about half a can of stuffed olives that I had bought for this recipe a while back, plus a small amount of very dry sherry (also bought for this recipe in the winter) and some chicken breast tenders in the freezer.

The Barcelona chicken is a variation on a recipe from the "Espagne" chapter of La cuisine autour de la mediterranee*, and I still don't remember about the spinach risotto (Giada or Emeril?). When I have peppers, the risotto is one of my favorite stuffings for them, but it also makes a great side dish all by itself.

Barcelona chicken (Pollo al Jerez):
2 tbsp olive oil
1 package chicken breast tenders (8 or 9)
2 tbsp flour
1 cup very dry sherry
12-15 pimiento-stuffed green olives
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a wide, shallow saucepan. Salt and pepper the chicken on both sides and add to the pan (work in batches if needed) and cook for 5-7 minutes, until chicken is most of the way cooked. Remove and set aside.
Add flour to the pan and stir carefully to keep lumps from forming. Add sherry and stir well. Bring to a boil for one minute, then reduce to a simmer. Add the chicken back to the pan, along with the olives. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Remove lid and cook until sauce has thickened, about 3-5 more minutes. When serving, drizzle the sauce over the chicken and olives.

Spinach risotto:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth (2 cups broth diluted by 1 cup water)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
8 oz. fresh spinach, chopped small and steamed in microwave
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add arborio rice and stir to coat.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of broth and water to a boil. Lower heat and begin adding, half to 3/4 cup at a time, to the pan containing the rice. Stir often, adding more broth as it is absorbed by the rice. Continue until all broth has been added to the rice. Add Parmesan and pepper and stir well. Check seasoning and add salt if needed. Add steamed spinach and stir until blended.

One word about the diluted broth: I haven't always diluted the broth, but I have found in the past that if you don't do this, or use low-sodium broth, the addition of Parmesan at the end can make the end result a little too salty.

Since it nearly reached 100 degrees on Friday, we weren't exactly starving by the time I started cooking. Any type of chicken will do, but I prefer the boneless, skinless kind for quick meals (and to be sure that it cooked through) and for smaller pieces that you can serve a lot of or just a couple, depending on how hungry you are. All in all, this one turned out really well, and I'm really looking forward to the leftovers!

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