Risotto Style Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

screen shot from epicurious.com

I’m going to disagree with the folks at Epicurious, Merriam-Webster, TheFreeDictionary.com, YourDictionary.com, Answers.com, and countless other resources that define Risotto as a rice dish.  If I’ve heard Anne Burrell say it once, she’s said it a hundred times, risotto is a method of cooking.  But we’ve all basically shorthanded it so that it generally refers to the final product instead of the method.  I’d like you to reconsider that.  And The Minimalist is going to help.

I should say that Risotto Style Pasta is more involved than dumping your pasta into boiling water and walking away for 8 minutes.  Risotto style pasta requires hands on participation.  It needs you to whisper sweet nothings into the pot while you gently stir the broth and pasta.  What you’ll get in return is a love letter to creamy al dente perfection.

I don’t know about you, but I think we could all use a love letter every now and then.  I mean image how much happier the world could be if we all got love letters; if we all felt important and special; if we all had a belly full of satisfying creamy pasta with chicken and mushrooms.  Maybe one day we will thank The Minimalist for his contribution to world peace.

Risotto Style Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms

Adapted from Mark Bittman

BAH Note:  According to The Minimalist’s recipe, it looks like you can use almost any kind of pasta….cut pasta like ziti or long pasta like spaghetti.  I wouldn’t go for extremely thin pastas like angel hair, or any fresh or refrigerated pasta, you need them to be able to stand up to a fair amount of cooking without falling apart.  If you happen to have leftover cooked chicken on hand, I would add that in at the very end instead of dicing up raw chicken and cooking it with the pasta.  I thought the leftovers a day or two later were even better than what we served up right off the stove.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound orzo
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 or 4 boneless chicken thighs
  • grated parmesan

Carefully dice the chicken thighs and set them aside.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

While the mushrooms cook, bring the chicken broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Add the pasta and diced chicken to the pot with the mushrooms and stir so that it gets completely coated with the oil in the pot.  Add the wine, if using, or 1/2 cup of the broth and let the liquid cook down.

Add the remaining broth in 1/2 cup increments, stirring frequently.  You want most of the liquid in the pot to evaporate before you add more.  After about 10 minutes, the pasta should be close to al dente.  Continue to cook to your desired doneness, taste for seasoning, and add salt as needed.

Serve garnished with grated parmesan.

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