I found this recipe while surfing the internet one day. I knew immediately that I wanted to serve it for New Year's Day. Then my husband and I decided to invite both our families here for Christmas, so I bumped the menu up a week. But it would be just as good for New Year's, especially with the addition of a little bubbly in the risotto. And since the original recipe was written for two servings, this would be the perfect dish to keep in mind for Valentine's Day or your next anniversary. Or, if you're a dude and want to impress your lady, I promise this is a recipe you need to learn to master. It's a little involved, but it is worth the effort...and is a great meal to make together, if you and your special someone enjoy sharing cooking duties! Enjoy!
3 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup arborio rice
Salt and pepper
1 split (half-bottle) champagne or sparkling wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 3-inch piece peel and juice of 1 lemon
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/8 pound sliced pancetta, chopped
1 small bunch asparagus, cut on an angle into 1-inch pieces
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese
3 - 4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped and chopped
In a medium saucepan, heat the stock over low heat. In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the champagne and boil to evaporate slightly, about 2 minutes.
Stir a couple of ladlefuls of warm chicken stock into the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates. Add more broth, a few ladlefuls at a time, reserving 1/2 cup. Cook until creamy, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes.
While the risotto cooks, in a small saucepan, cook the cream, lemon peel and cayenne over medium-low heat until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for about 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a cutting board (reserving the skillet); add the reserved 1/2 cup chicken broth to the pan juices in the skillet and stir. Stir this liquid into the risotto as it cooks.
In the nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus and shallot and cook, stirring, for 3 more minutes.
To serve, stir the cheese and thyme into the risotto and spoon generous portions onto plates. Slice the chicken breasts on an angle and fan out over the risotto. Discard the lemon peel from the reduced cream; spoon over the chicken. Pour the lemon juice over the asparagus and toss; spoon around the risotto.
Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, December 2007.