Chicken and pea risotto

There are certain dishes that make you feel good simply by preparing them, even before you get to the eating of them. This risotto is, for me, one of these dishes.

It’s partly because it consists mainly of leftovers. The chicken comes from a roast chicken we enjoyed a couple of days earlier, while the stock was made from the bones of the same bird. Spreading ingredients over two or three meals in this way makes me feel quite virtuous, like a proper old fashioned cook.

And then there’s the way you cook a good risotto. It takes care and patience. You can’t turn your back on it for too long. It takes love, and in return you feel loved for making it.

People can be put off making risotto because they dislike the idea of having to stand over the pan, constantly stirring the rice. I know I used to be. But really, it’s only 20 minutes of your life, and it can be almost therapeutic to stand there and let  your mind wander. It’s almost like meditation.

Finally, of course, it tastes so good. Just a few simple ingredients and a bit of stirring and you end up with a creamy hug on a plate. Most definitely my idea of the perfect comfort food.

Chicken and pea risotto

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
320g arborio risotto rice
300g (approx) cooked chicken, torn or cut into bitesized pieces
1 litre hot chicken stock (homemade or from stock cubes)
250g frozen peas
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

Gently cook the onion in the olive oil in a large frying pan for around 10 minutes until golden. Add the garlic and rice and fry for another couple of minutes.

Stir in the hot stock to the rice a ladleful at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Keep going until you have added almost all the stock.

As the last ladleful goes in, throw in the peas and the chicken and stir together for two to three minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese and a grind of salt and pepper to taste.