Early autumn risotto (with chicken, roasted cherry tomatoes and rosemary)

It is near impossible for me to write a blog title without including parentheses. Can someone please hold an intervention for me?

Last week it got particularly fall-like in Sudbury. The temperature dipped to a chilly 12 degrees in the morning, making my tug my sleeves over my knuckles as I biked to work. My new autumn jacket, jeans and eternity scarf were officially broken in. And if I closed my eyes while biking, it was almost as though I was zooming down Sunnyside Avenue in Ottawa on my way to an 8:30 a.m. journalism class in St. Pat’s.

My first taste of autumn was filled with nostalgia and a slight tinge of sadness. Brisk weather makes me want to wear Toms and big sweaters. It makes me crave the feeling of walking across campus with a tumbler full of tea. It makes me want to wait in line at the bookstore and hug warm, freshly-printed syllabi. This upcoming season will be a strange one, I can feel it already, and last week was simply a prelude to that emotion. As if I wasn’t already writing enough personal “reflective 20-something-year-old” essays, I sense a landslide more to come.

Right, the food. I generally associate risotto with chillier weather and, if risotto were a piece of clothing, it would most certainly be one of my big, grandpa-style knit sweaters. It’s warm and versatile enough that it can be for casual dinners or fancy affairs, dressed up or dressed down.

I still had a few cherry tomatoes leftover from my friend’s garden, and wanted to use them before they went to waste. Oh, just so you know, spontaneously squishing freshly-roasted cherry tomatoes with a fork is a good way to get burning tomato juice in your eye. Don’t try this at home, kids.

I saw a delicious looking recipe for a barley salad with grouse on the interwebs and was inspired to create a simpler, sister dish. As much as I would love to use all that spare grouse I have hanging around my kitchen (…), chicken breasts were a tad easier.

The only criticism I had of this risotto was that I went overboard with the rosemary.

Fresh herbs can be one of those things where I think “oh hey, it can’t actually produce that strong a flavour, let’s just add more for photography sake!” Incorrect. I got too sprinkle happy and it was obvious. I have adjusted the recipe you see below these photos to take into account my mistake (but the pictures look nice, right?).

So, anyone else yearning for a fresh box of black pens or the smell of new textbooks? How about stepping on crunchy leaves? (this last item is truly a universal love, if ever I did encounter one)

Recipe: Early autumn risotto
Inspired by Hunter, Angler, Gardner, Cook
– Olive oil
– 2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb)
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 2 stalk celery, finely chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1 1/4 cup arborio rice
– 900 ml chicken stock (1 carton)
– 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
– 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, taken off the step and finely chopped
– Pepper
– 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat a bit of oil of medium-high. Cook the chicken breasts on either side until brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside. Put on a plate and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm. Drain the pan of fats.

Heat a little more oil on the same pan. Fry the onion, carrots and celery on medium-high heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to boil in another pot.

Add the arborio rice and stir often for about a minute.

Add the hot chicken stock, one ladle at a time. Wait until most of the liquid has absorbed before adding the next ladle.

Meanwhile, roast the halved cherry tomatoes at 400 degrees on a baking sheet. About 10 minutes. Mush them up slightly with a fork. Add them to the risotto mixture.

Cook the risotto until all the chicken stock has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. About 20 minutes in total.

Remove from heat and mix in the Parmesan cheese, rosemary and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes four servings.

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6 thoughts on “Early autumn risotto (with chicken, roasted cherry tomatoes and rosemary)

  1. I so relate. I walked out of work for lunch and felt the air and was amazed that Fall was on its way. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the thermometer in my car. It was still 85 degrees (Fahrenheit)! This temperature could only be considered “cool” in the South where we are accustomed to over a hundred degree weather in the summers. It definitely makes me nostalgic for learning. Among my other many qualms with being an adult, the fact that you don’t get to buy school supplies and sit in lectures and read a lot. Makes me want to go to school again. I was so privileged there and I had no clue.

  2. I’ve been out of school a few years, and this post still made me super nostalgic for J-School days past! Today is the first day I’ve worn long sleeves in a long time and with that always comes memories and the urge to cuddle up. Can’t wait to try this recipe, thanks Hilary!

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