Chicken and vegetable risotto
This relies on the veg to make the risotto ‘creamy’ rather than cheese and/or cream – so it is slightly lower in calories!
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots finely chopped
1 small or half a large bulb fennel, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
Inner few sticks of a head of celery, including as many of the leaves as possible, finely chopped
1 litre chicken stock
Bundle of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 skinless chicken breasts, in bite-sized pieces
350g arborio risotto rice
150ml French vermouth (I use Noilly Prat)
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil over a low heat in a large, heavy pan with a lid, add the chopped veg and stir. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they're really soft and sweet, but be careful not to let them get too brown. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan, and throw in a few stems of thyme and the bay leaf. Keep it warm on a very low heat.
When the vegetables are well cooked, stir in the chicken and cook until opaque. Add the risotto rice and stir well to coat it in the oil. Add half the vermouth and stir until the liquid has almost evaporated, then add a ladleful of the stock and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed it. Continue adding the stock, ladleful by ladleful, letting the rice absorb each addition, and stirring all the time to release the starches from the rice. When the rice is almost cooked, after about 18 minutes, remove the thyme and bay leaf, season, and add some fresh chopped thyme. Take the pan from the heat, stir in the rest of the vermouth and serve straight away.