Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring chicken and asparagus-pea risotto with mint

'Lenten Rose' hellebore in my garden. I collect hellebores, jack-in-the-pulpits and euphorbias.


Lately I've been thinking a lot about the old adage, "she's no spring chicken". It's strange, because I generally feel pretty sassy and chic for being a chick over thirty, but I go through periods of feeling a bit fwumpy and old. This is probably not coincidental to shopping for clothing at Forever 21 at the mall.

And there it is. See that? I just psychoanalyzed myself in front of all of you and am already cutting myself some fucking slack and enjoying a nice cocktail and some delicious, white carbs.

I made this springtime dish to celebrate spring's arrival and to engage in battle for some Tupperware over at Ben's joint. "What's Cooking?", his blog asks. Oh I'll tell you what the fuck is cookin': well, I guess I already told you in the title of this post.

Spring makes me thing of so many things - the fecundity of rough-skinned newts; the deafening aroma of daphne blossoms across the street; and fresh chicken, skin painted with rich, butter-yellow fat. But what greater harbinger of spring is there, you wonder, than asparagus? (Well I thought of morels, too, but they weren't at New Seasons yet and I didn't have time to drive 6 hours to the Rogue National Forest to pick some.) Its little lily shoots, so tender-crisp and verdant, just perfect with snap peas for a springtime risotto. And how about some nice spring chicken, with good crunchy salt and pepper and paper-thin lemon slices under the skin? You can already smell the warm hyacinth and mossy underbrush, can't you?

Lemony spring chicken: For two people, get a double breast with the bone out but skin on. Flatten it out and lazily pound it into a half-assed paillard with the side of your fist. Give a good pinch of coarse sea salt and fresh-ground pepper to the skin-side, then slide your fingers between the skin and flesh and ease a few slices of lemon in. Skin-side down onto a rippin' hot grill pan (if it's hot enough, the chicken will literally squeal when you place it on the pan), and S&P the (non-skin) flesh side. When you get some good grill marks on the skin, flip it, turn off heat, and pop it in a 350-degree oven while your risotto is cooking. When it's done to the touch- test (learn this trick), rest for five minutes and then slice on the bias, taking care not to tear the skin too much while you slice through the lemon.

Asparagus-pea risotto with mint: YOU MUST USE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK. That's just how it goes, sorry. I squoze in an hour to do this, during which time I read funny shit on the internets. You can make time, too, or you will just hafta wait until Saturday to make this. (If you're very clever, you already have some in your freezer.)

You know how to make risotto. If you don't, just go ahead and flip open Joy of Cooking to the How To Cook Risotto page. S'cool, I'll wait. Okay, back? Good. Cut off the woody ends of like 4 or 5 asparagus spears, then dice up the good parts (reserving the tenderest tips). Similarly dice up a handful of snap peas (fresh-shelled peas would also work, but wouldn't need to be chopped). In your pan, melt a pat of butter and a drizzle of olive oil, and sweat some shallots. When things are smelling pretty good, get going on the rest of it (toss in the arborio rice, stir until the "white dot" appears, splash of chardonnay, ladlesful of stock while tirelessly stirring, stirring, coaxing every molecule of starch out of each motherfucking grain until your hands bleed, etc.). About midway through, add the diced asparagus stems (not the tips, though! these are tender and don't need that long). Add a few scratches of nutmeg and a fat pinch of lemon zest. After like 5 more minutes (or two ladles) add some fresh thyme, too. Then toss in the asparagus tips and the peas with the last ladle of stock. Salt to taste (my homemade stock is never salted). Top with lots of parm and a chiffonade of mint.

Serve with a chilled Prosecco, which will enhance the citrus notes in the chicken and risotto, and get you buzzed if you polish off two bottles.

Heh, oops, this photo was shot before I added parm! I am such a fucking amateur!

27 comments:

glamah16 said...

Why cant you live in Chicago or vice versa. Thats the perfect Sunday dinner, or I may knock it off fpr Easter!I bet your garden is beautiful.

Peter G said...

I love the recipe Heather...very "spring like". I always enjoy your writing. Its straight to the point with no sugar coated Disney bull! My risottos are hit and miss and I think your instructions were the best and funniest I have ever read! Good luck with the tupperware.

Emiline said...

That's a purty flower. I like.

Oh you should win! This is a perfect entry. It really made me feel like spring is here. I want some morels. I might do some hunting. Wait-that's not until April-May, right? I guess it depends on where you live.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I already have some prosecco in the fridge, so guess what I'm making this week? It looks fab! The flower photo is stunning too!

Peter M said...

First you massage a lamb for reciprocation and now you're fingering a chicken? SEXY!

I had to look up "fecundity"...more new word of the day.;)

Prosecco's fine but Muscat...that's a wine to enjoy with your bird.

Bellini Valli said...

This is a beauty:D My favourite chicken and asparagus rolled into one:D

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

That recipe looks incredible as usual. And you are such a renaissance woman! I think I have to try this but with something else that is in season here. Yeah we don't get spring until your fall starts!

peter said...

It's never OK to use store-bought stock. Just say no.

Henceforth I want you to call me "P-to-the-Eater" to keep things clear.

Syd said...

My grandmother would absolutely DIE if I ever used canned stock or as she calls it "shitty salt water".

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a wonderful dish... this looks like it would taste like spring. Which may mean I should make it because it may be as close to spring as I'm gonna get at this rate!

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Damn it. I want spring and I want it now. Get yo' butt over here and make me this chicken cause I'm in a late winter snit, and have only been cooking pots of meats with my bathrobe on.
Oh, morels is it? You Oregon people are so uppity about your morels.
This is incredibly beautiful, delicious, and I'm beyond jealous.

kittie said...

drool... great recipe, great hellibore (sp??), great post!

Ben said...

Now that is a winner recipe. You really want that Tupperware, don't ya? And I am with Peter M there that it sounds kinda sexy fingering a chicken :-/ LOL

Good luck!

Leigh said...

hit that parm!

I love risotto - but answer me this: how are you pronouncing this? being a brit, i say 'Ree-Sott-Oh',but i recently saw an episode where Constanzo pronounced it 'Ree-zote-oh' kind of thing. Is this common in the states? does this even make sense?!?!?

Ivy said...

I enjoy reading your posts. I shall close the computer with a smile on my face. What a nice recipe this is. Good night and good luck with Ben's challenge.

tammy said...

You made my minty peas look like cafeteria food. Cheers!

Heather said...

Hi you all! I am too tired to post replies to all my comments today. I'm a bad friend, I know. :( Thanks for saying nice things, though!

You pervy boys - get yer minds out of the gutter! Just 'cuz chicken breasts look kind of suggestive (just ask Syd), doesn't mean I'm tryna be sexy. :P

Emiline - you're right, I'm a little early for morels after all, color me sad.

Peter - I will call you P-to-the-Eater, but I think Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater is funnier.

Leigh - I call it riz-oh-toe.

peter said...

As you wish. I'm all about funny.

peter said...

On second thought, how about "Jubilation T. Cornpwn?"

Brittany said...

You make me want spring to come. You also make me feel bad that I ate Spaghetti O's out of a can tonight. It was a rough night.

Either way, This looks delicious!

Toni said...

I'll be right over! Man, that all looks so delicious - and I'm not even hungry right now.

Asparagus. That's spring to me. And I've got the prosecco in the fridge.

Núria said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that flower picture!!! It seems our gardens are blooming simultaneously :D... You should see my orquidea (I want you to be a little envious there, will post some pics soon)je, je.

Anyway, congrats for the recipe! I also LOVE it!!! Great risotto, MMmmmmmm it looks so creamy... wonderful!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

The chicken sounds like a great switchover to spring time. I also enjoyed the specific instructions to "lazily pound it into a half-assed paillard," lol. Looks very tasty

Zen Chef said...

Not the Spring in NY yet. Still freezing my butt off but i can't wait though. Thanks for the reminder. Looks yum.

Pixie said...

This is one fucken good recipe for risotto. :) You deserve to win with this smashing dish. I adore risotto and it's true you need to make a very good stock. Bu is in charge of making risotto and he does add *whisper* half a stock cube he says it makes it richer. Maybe his version of fresh stock just needs some work- not sure. I'll have to try making it on my own one day.

amysep said...

Ok, do you feel 'forever 21' when you shop there? I know I do. Actually I feel old and fat considering a large barely fits me but over and over again, I continue to go back. Another fave is a REALLY dub-tee place that we may only have on the East Coast called "Joyce Leslie"... yes, the two worst female names in the world put together to sell disposable clothes. Awesome. Nothing over $15!

Ok, back to the food. We just made seafood and pea risotto the other night! holy crap - mfeo! (meant for each other). I really love the idea of adding the pounded chicken (which seems to be a chicken milanese) and not cutting it up and mixing it in. Also, your flower pic is really bee-u-tee-ful. - amy @ http://www.weareneverfull.com

Heather said...

"trick" is to roast the chicken bits first (I buy necks and backs) with the veg so it gets some maillard on it for extra flavor. Then I simmer for at least an hour, usually two. Does the trick every time!

Amy - At least we don't shop at the Fashion Bug. Food: milanese would be breaded and fried. Mine has no breading, but is still flattened into a paillard for shits and giggles. :P