Almost risotto

I like risotto and rice dishes made with arborio rice, but really, who has time to stand there stirring for 45 minutes? Especially with two or three kids snapping at the heels, whinging about how hungry they are. So I love cooking oven-baked risotto-style meals, which are much easier to put together. These recipes follow the initial steps of risotto-making, but instead of stirring the stock in, one ladleful at a time, it’s added all at once and put into the oven to absorb.

The resulting rice is not quite as creamy as properly made risotto, but stirring in some parmesan and even butter at the end can bring it close.

I’ve found that the trick with these recipes is to make sure the stock is brought to a simmer just before it’s added to the dish. I’ve tried a few variations of these recipes and this seems to be the critical step for making sure the rice cooks properly.

This particular recipe is not a cheesy risotto, however. Instead it has a Spanish influence, with chorizo sausage and smoky paprika. It comes from an Australian Women’s Weekly special issue I picked up last year.

Oven-baked Chicken and Chorizo Risotto

Adapted from Winter Favourites Special 2011, published by The Australian Women’s Weekly

Serves 4-6

4 c (1L) chicken stock
1 Tbs olive oil
2 chorizo sausages, sliced thinly
500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-3 cm chunks
3 small onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large red capsicum, sliced thinly
2 c arborio rice
2 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 c dry white wine
1/2 c coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 180C.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan (keep covered so it doesn’t evaporate too much).

Heat 1/2 Tbs olive oil over high heat in a large dutch oven or flameproof casserole dish with a lid. Fry the chorizo until it is browned all over. Remove from dish. If necessary, pour out excess oil so that about 1 Tbs remains.

Add the chicken and cook until golden, stirring frequently. Remove from pan.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan, and saute the onions and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the red capsicum and saute for another minute. Then add the rice and paprika and stir for a minute or so, until the rice is coated in the onion mixture and the grains are starting to go opaque.

Pour in the wine and simmer until it has evaporated. Then add back the chicken and pour over the hot stock, and bring back to a simmer. Cover with the lid and transfer to the oven.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, stirring about halfway through. Add the chorizo back to the pan, and stir for a minute or so until chorizo heats back up.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.


1. I used a sweet smoked paprika, but a hot smoked paprika would be nice too.


It’s the season for winter food

We’ve had a bad run of winter colds in our family so far this winter, and it’s really only just begun. And I haven’t much felt like cooking while in the midst of it all. But today I really felt like cooking, something filling, something nourishing.

It’s also been cold and wet—with the winter solstice has come the wintery weather. While I dream of tropical holidays, the reality is quite different. This kind of weather demands food that sticks to the ribs, food that warms from the inside.

So this is a beef stew, a casserole if you will. What makes it a bit different are the dumplings, soft pillows of cheesy goodness floating on the top of the rich stew. Mmm, delicious!

Beef Stew with Parsley Dumplings

Adapted from Slow Cooking, by The Australian Women’s Weekly

Serves 4-6

1 kg beef chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
2 Tbs plain flour
2-3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs (25g) butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
300g Dutch carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup red wine
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 c beef stock
4 sprigs of thyme
1 c self raising flour
1 Tbs (50g) butter
1  egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c finely chopped flat leaf parsley
50g semi-sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped finely
1/4 c milk, approximately

Preheat oven to 160C.

Heat 2 Tbs oil in a large dutch oven or flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Toss the beef with the flour and shake off the excess. Brown in batches and set aside. If required, add a bit more oil between batches

Heat the butter in the same pot or dish over medium-high heat and saute the onions, garlic and carrots for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Return the beef to the pot and add the tomato paste, stock and thyme. Bring to the boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. cook for 1 .5 hours.

While the stew is cooking, prepare the dumplings as follows. Rub the butter into the self-raising flour with your fingers until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg, cheese, parsley, tomato and milk and stir until the mixture forms a soft sticky dough.

Remove the dish from the oven and drop tablespoonfuls of dumpling mixture onto the surface, leaving about 1.5-2cm between each dumpling. Cook in the oven for a further 20 minutes, uncovered, until the dumplings are golden brown and cooked through.