A Haze Inducing Dish

January 18, 2009

There are some dishes in life that you have to commit to making. They require you complete devotion and attention throughout the cooking process or the entire dish is subject to becoming a culinary disaster. Risotto is the quintessential dish of this category. You can imagine with my “Oh Look Shiny” syndrome that I am amazing at these dishes. Incase you are missing the sarcasm, I am not. After a few minutes, my eyes glaze over and I am somewhere else completely. And usually whatever day dream I have ended up in, is much more interesting than stirring a pot of rice for 30 minutes.

But this is why Alex and I make such a good team; he is a master of recognizing the haze. He can even recognize it out in public when I am listening to someone drone on and on while I make the customary nods and “Oh really’s”. Alex’s muffled laughter from across the room can usually snap me back to reality. This skill comes in handy at the Risotto pot. When the haze takes over so does Alex, he gentle removes my hand from the now stagnant spoon and begins to stir. I will then skip off and indulge in me newest magazine, an episode of The Office from the DVR, or making Spike chase a laser around the house (he likes shiny too). Five to ten minutes later, I realize that I am suppose to be making dinner and take the spoon back from Alex and the dance begins again.

Somehow when this process has been completed two to three times, we have this perfect pot of risotto that is rich and creamy. I am certain that is because of my excellent cooking skills and has nothing to do with my husband’s haze identifying ability.

Fontina Risotto with Chickenrisotto-068a1

This dish comes from my Food Network Magazine but you can also find the recipe here.

I found this dish to have a really nice texture with all the creaminess you would expect in Risotto. I also thought it may have been a little too cheesy. Alex thinks that nothing is too cheesy and the dish should remain the same. I would probably reduce the Fontina to ¾ of a cup.

I also pan fried cubes of chicken instead of buying deli chicken. I cooked the chicken in some butter ( you could also use olive oil) and seasoned with salt, pepper, red pepper flake, basil, parsley, and de-glaze the pan with a little bit of white wine. I thought this added another dimension to the Risotto. Overall, I would rate the dish an 8 and Alex rates it an 8.5.

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme ( I used 1 ½ teaspoon dried)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese, plus more for garnish ( I would change to ¾ cup)
  • 8 ounces deli-smoked chicken breast, diced (about 11/4 cups) (I used pan fried chicken)risotto-033a
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley


Bring the broth and 4 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan; keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and thyme; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Ladle in the hot broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, allowing all of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the thyme. Stir in the parmigiano, the remaining1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in the fontina and chicken. Divide the rest among bowls; top with parsley and more fontina.

The leftovers for this dish can be turned into Risotto cakes.


6 Responses to “A Haze Inducing Dish”

  1. I would probably NOT think this was too much cheese. I am a huge fan of cheese. 🙂 Looks great!

  2. gaga said

    Yum, that looks sooo cheesy and just heavenly!

  3. pinnythewu said

    I like shiny too.

  4. ash said

    looks great!!

  5. Carrie said

    I found your site through Tastespotting…all of your food looks amazing! I looove risotto and this recipes looks great.

  6. […] and my sister) raided the cupboards to see what we could throw together for dinner and inspired by this post at The Cynical Chef we settled on a risotto using what little ingredients we had. There was no […]

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