Comfort food for a cool night

Delicious new way to use leftover chicken

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I tried a new recipe for supper Monday night, and it was so good!

Reggie and I both loved my adapted version of Southern Living’s oven chicken risotto.

If you’ve read my food column long, you know I have a weakness for the food magazines that line the checkout counter at grocery stores. The glossy cover photos of layer cakes dripping with decadent chocolate or bowls of soup packed with veggies make my mouth drool!

I love to thumb through the seasonal or specialized collections while I wait to check out. I don’t usually give in and buy one, but I caved this weekend and bought Southern Living’s “Almost Homemade.” The price was a little steep — $12.99 — for an on-a-whim magazine purchase, but my husband and I agreed that my readers would love for me to try some of the recipes and share them!

The chicken risotto in the publication caught my attention right away. It’s featured in the chapter on easy recipes to make with rotisserie chicken. To make risotto, Arborio rice is traditionally cooked in broth slowly on the stove and involves lots of stirring. But in this streamlined version, the rice is cooked in broth in the oven — with the casserole dish covered in foil. After the rice has cooked, the other ingredients are added in.

I chose the recipe for several reasons. The main reason? It looked delicious! But I also knew I had some of the main ingredients on hand.

I had made chicken broth for chicken soup over the weekend and had some leftover diced chicken in the refrigerator. That’s a logical substitute. I also had quite a bit of Arborio rice in a large plastic canister. I know this because Reggie and I started the long-delayed task of cleaning out and organizing our pantry this past weekend, and I discovered it hiding on a shelf!

At lunchtime Monday, I made a run to the grocery store to pick up the other items I didn’t have but wanted to use in the recipe. I went to the salad bar to get grape tomatoes, spinach and mozzarella balls.

I got home from work a little later than usual, but it worked out fine. The prep and cooking time are both short, and we were eating in less than an hour.

This recipe is very different from other things I cook — different in a good way.

We both loved the flavor and the different textures from creamy risotto to juicy tomatoes and will certainly make it again. It was warm and delicious on a cold, rainy night.

I would also make the baked risotto without the chicken and veggies as a side dish. It was so easy.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810


2 tablespoons butter

212 cups chicken broth

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice (short-grain)

12 small onion, diced

12 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken

1 (8-oz.) package fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 12-inch cubes

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

14 cup shredded fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place butter in a 13X9-inch baking dish; bake 5 minutes or until melted. Stir in broth and next 3 ingredients.

Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove from oven. Fluff rice with a fork. Stir in chicken, mozzarella and tomatoes; sprinkle with shredded basil. Serve immediately.

Southern Living’s “Almost Homemade”

NOTES: I used mozzarella balls instead of fresh mozzarella cubes after reading a reviewer’s notes. The mozzarella balls did not completely melt for me. I will use fresh mozzarella next time, but not a full 8 ounces. Also, my risotto was a little dry. I added another half cup of chicken broth to the dish when I added the tomatoes, chicken and cheese. Then I placed the dish back in the oven so the chicken would warm and the cheese would start to melt. (That step is not in the Southern Living recipe.) Next time, I will probably add the extra chicken broth as the risotto cooks. I also used a handful of spinach instead of basil and cooked it in the oven along with the rice and broth. In the summer, when I have fresh basil, I will probably try that version. I had cooked leftover chicken so I used that instead of rotisserie.