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.

Tasty chicken rice

Jessie aged one – she’s always loved her food, just like her mum

I’ve been making this meal for my girls since my oldest, Jessie, was about a year old. It’s incredibly easy to make and is good for getting little ones used to different textures.

When they’re very little, you’ll need to chop up the chicken and vegetables quite small, but as they get older you can leave the ingredients more chunky.

It’s a firm favourite with both my daughters and I often cook up a big pot and freeze portions for easy midweek meals. Jessie is now six and Mia is three and their eyes still light up when I tell them they’re having it for tea.

Feel free to play around with the vegetables you include. I often swap the courgette for peas or sweetcorn. I also used to use mushrooms until Jessie decided one day they were the devil’s food!

Tasty chicken rice

200g basmati rice
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 courgette, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 skinless chicken breast, chopped
450ml passata
100ml chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Cook the rice following the instructions on the packet.

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion, pepper and courgette for about five minutes. Add the garlic and parsley, fry for another minute or so before adding the chicken.

Cook until the chicken turns white, then add the passata and stock. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Drain the rice and combine with the chicken sauce. Taste and add seasoning if needed.

I’m entering this dish into the Family Foodies challenge which Louisa at Eat Your Veg and I take turns to host. It’s Louisa’s turn this month and the theme is The Under Twos.