The Tale of The Little Chicken That Could, Part III: Risotto, the Essence of a Chicken and the End?

Dark roasted chicken stock + caramelized onions + balsamic drizzle = delectable risotto, but perhaps not the prettiest or most colorful you've ever seen!

There’s been a roasted chicken, and then chicken pot pies, and now the time has come to wind up this tale of The Little Chicken That Could with his final bequest: Chicken Essence, AKA the roasted chicken stock, and what to do with it!

Now of course, soup is a wonderful thing, and having homemade stock on hand in your freezer is like having a warm security blanket….at least once you warm it, it is. Rest assured, there will be soup in the future. But the little chicken had another idea for the home cook as well…

“Once you’ve eaten up all of my tasty meat and made stock with the rest, the world will still be your oyster,” the little chicken had said. “Think of it this way, now you have the true essence of a chicken right in the palm of your hand, and cooking something simple that is enhanced by that deep roasted flavor—or better yet, draws on it—is what you owe yourself and me, as a final tribute. Go, be creative, and make a risotto.”

The home cook perused her larder. “I have lots of onions,” she thought, “and some arborio rice, a little butter, some parmesan, and this lovely aged fig balsamic vinegar. Seems like I remember a dish from a restaurant long ago…an unusual Italian risotto featuring caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar.”

And so for this last dish—the dish of the chicken essence—she decided to make: Caramelized Onion Risotto with an Aged Balsamic Drizzle. 

And it was good.
And she was happy.
And the clouds parted, the sun came out and she could feel the smile of the little chicken, not to mention see the one on her husband’s face.
Mission accomplished.

Thus ends the tale of the one little chicken. ….or is it? There’s still 8 cups of stock left! Ah, well, another post for that down the regular posting road. But until then, feel free to check out the Index of Recipes section of this blog for more recipes that utilize chicken stock, as well as all the recipes from these three posts.

And now for the moral of this little story: The next time you’re in the store and see a whole chicken beckoning, don’t skip past it to the pre-roasted chicken area. Just think of the tale of The Little Chicken That Could, and all those wonderful things…and oh, so much more…that one simple roasted chicken could provide. And do, please, make one for yourself!

Caramelized Onion Risotto with an Aged Balsamic Drizzle
Serves 2

Note: This recipe is all about the essence of a few fine ingredients, allowing each one to shine through. It’s simple and delicious, just be prepared to stir.

3 cups of roasted chicken stock, preferably homemade, but use low sodium store bought if you must
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped shallot
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 Tablespoon dry sherry or dry white wine
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
2 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar, preferably very high quality
A sprinkle of finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley (optional)

Bring the broth just to a simmer in a small sauce pan and keep warm over low heat, do not boil.

Place the 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and reserve to the side.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and the onion to the pan and cook for about 12-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallot and onion are lightly caramelized and golden brown, then sprinkle with a tiny pinch of kosher salt. Add the rice to the pan and stir constantly for 30 seconds, then add the sherry or wine and cook about 15 seconds more. Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth, cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed by the rice, but not dry. Add the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed each time before adding the next 1/2 cup. This will take about 20-25 minutes total. At the time of adding the last bit of liquid, turn the heat on to low underneath the pan with the balsamic vinegar, stirring fairly frequently, and allow it to simmer, reducing and thickening a bit to the consistency of syrup, then turn off the heat and reserve while you finish the risotto.

When the last amount of liquid is absorbed and the risotto is creamy, remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese until well combined. Serve the risotto immediately, drizzling some of the balsamic vinegar reduction in a circular motion over the top of each portion, then finish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, if desired.

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36 thoughts on “The Tale of The Little Chicken That Could, Part III: Risotto, the Essence of a Chicken and the End?

  1. Oh, Betsy! You hit this one out of the park! That risotto looks perfect, not too dry and not too moist, deep in color because of the stock, and sweetened by a dash of balsamic. I’ve been served risotto in restaurants that doesn’t have nearly the visual appeal of your dish. Well done!

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    • Oh, John, thank you for your very kind words! Wow, that is SUCH a nice compliment. 🙂 I’m on a risotto kick here lately…my second one in the last two weeks. It’s reminded me how much I love the stuff. This was my first attempt at this remembered dish with the onion and the balsamic…but it won’t be the last time we have it. I love that it’s made with ingredients you usually have around…if you have the arborio rice, of course!

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    • Hey Sharyn, thank you! I’m so glad to see you “out” and hope you’re feeling better. The finishing with the reduced balsamic vinegar really does bring out the sweetness of the onion. This may become my favorite risotto!

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  2. This one is just over the top! This is exactly the color I’d be looking for.. I could tell it had some rich creamy dark goodness.. and sure enough, there was balsamic and the caramelized onions! I would love this one!!

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  3. I really enjoy making risotto. Of course, I generally have a glass of wine in one hand and the wooden spoon in another whilst singing along to something…very therapeutic. I knew Little Chicken would come up with something great (with a little help from you)! A beautiful recipe and I think the photos look great. I did a risotto the other week but haven´t posted it because it tasted amazing but the photos looked like…well, let´s just say, not something you´d choose to eat! And you still have stock left for another day, perfect.

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    • I like that vision of having the wine glass in one hand and the spoon in the other! I thought the texture was perfect on this, but the brown on brown in the photo wasn’t as pretty as the seafood risotto I didn’t take a picture of on Valentine’s day, which had saffron, tomatoes and parsley. This was tasty, though, and thanks for the compliments!

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    • It’s a funny thing about risotto, the more I eat it the more I want it! Thank you, Norma, not sure it would be a good breakfast dish (though the color is a bit like oatmeal with brown sugar), but it would be a mighty fine lunch!

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  4. I just love risotto. It’s my favourite comfort food. And I might just cook risotto tonight because we need some comfort from all the rain. When will it stop! Half the country’s under water. I love your serving plates – very pretty.

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  5. Thank you, Charlie Louie, and you’re so right, risotto is definitely a comfort food. Those plates are an old French pattern we found in a thrift store and i love them. Most were chipped but a few bowls and small plates were perfect. I’d love to have a whole set. They are made by Gien, France, the pattern is Oiseaux de Paradis, and is far more elaborate and beautiful as it extends into the bowl underneath the risotto!

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    • Thank you, Eva, and I agree, this doesn’t need anything more. The finishing touches are the parm and the balsamic, and the rice is plenty creamy all by itself if cooked properly. I’d call it “healthy” but perhaps I should leave it at “healthier!”

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  6. I’m such a big fan of rice (can’t live without it) and risotto. I’ll have to try your recipe which sounds so yummy. And indeed that balsamic vinegar is a good addition too to cut neutralize the creaminess. Yummy!

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    • Hi Malou, thank you for your compliments! In this case, the balsamic really contrasts and enhances the creamy texture and the flavor of the rice, in my opinion. This risotto is naturally creamy from the rice, no dairy added, so has a fairly clean mouthfeel relatively speaking. I hope you’ll try it and tell me if you like it! Have a great day! 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Spring Teases Us and How to Cook and Extend a Roasted Chicken | bits and breadcrumbs

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