If chickens could, they would marry leeks, and it would be a marriage made in heaven! The flavour combinations in this dish has cemented it as a long time favourite with my family. Although it’s a time-consuming dish to make, it is well worth the effort and can be a real crowd pleaser.
2 cups of shredded free ranged chicken (I used the left over meat from our Roast Chicken with Mango but a BBQ chook works equally as well)
1 leek sliced thinly
½ red capsicum, cut into bite size pieces
2 stalks of celery, cut finely
1 small onion, diced finely
½ cup peas
2 cups arboreal rice
1 – 2 ltr chicken stock
½ cup white wine (optional)
½ – 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
½ – 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 – 2 teaspoon & parsley
2 teaspoons garlic
splash of olive oil
- Empty the stock into a pot, and bring to the boil. While it is warming, prepare the vegetables as seen in photo 1 (above).
- Choose a large pot and warm it on moderate heat before adding the oil, herbs and spices. Saute until fragrant before adding the onion and leeks (photo 2 above).
- Cook the leek mixture is transparent. Add the shredded chicken and warm evenly before adding the rice. Mix gently until the rice is coated with the mixture flavours and any moisture is absorbed (photo 3 above).
- Add one ladle full of hot stock to your mixture, stirring continually but gently. Ensure you add only one ladle full at a time, and don’t be tempted to add any further moisture until all existing liquid has been absorbed (photo 4 above). Also, make sure that the contents are only simmering and not boiling, as this will cause evaporation rather than absorption.
- As the rice begins to absorb the stock mixture, it will turn from white to opaque. You will notice this change starts from the edges of each grain and continues until it is fully cooked all the way through (see photo below). Stir continually to ensure it doesn’t go gluggy and cooks evenly without sticking. When the rice is close to cooked, add the remaining vegetables (celery, capsicums and peas) and the white wine. It is important to ensure that the wine is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated off before resuming adding stock.
- Check the rice occasionally for tenderness and when cooked but still firm, serve with grated cheese and some hot crusty bread (see photo at top of page).
- Diabetic note: Although this seems quite high carb count, it’s not as bad as you would think. I was within my carb limit, and my bowl (pictured top) was 2-3 exchanges (30g – 45g carbs). Use your own discretion with this dish.
- Leeks are a delicious, flavour rich vegetable that is, in my opinion, under utilised. This may be due to the tricky nature of preparing them for use. To use a leek in your cooking, remove the coarse / thick green material from the top of the leek and root material from the bottom. You want to use the white soft flesh of the leek. Because of the way they grow (raised soil rows), leeks often have grains of dirt between the layers of flesh. To clean the leek, slice it length wise, and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water, moving each layer of flesh to ensure it is flushed.
- Arboreal rice is a special type of rice that has unique absorption qualities and leaves you with a deliciously silky, creamy liquid. It is important that you use a good quality arboreal rice when you make risotto. Don’t be tempted to use a standard long grained rice.
- Risottos can turn into a disaster quickly through some common errors:
- To make sure your risotto is delicious, stir continually. Don’t leave it alone for more than 30 seconds!
- Keep it at a low – medium heat; you want your risotto to be on a simmer not a boil.
- And lastly, don’t be tempted to add too much liquid too quickly. This will cause your rice to become gluggy and squishy rather than firm separate grains.