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.
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
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.