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.


Bill’s green chicken curry

A few weeks ago, we went to a local, and very good, Thai restaurant for dinner with friends. And a few days later, when I asked Matty what he’d like for dinner, he suggested green chicken curry. So I looked around for a recipe that was easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner, but “from scratch” enough to feel like I was really cooking. Enter Bill Granger, whose latest cookbook Bill’s Everyday Asian has been gracing my bookshelf (or rather, balancing precariously on my sideboard) since Christmas.

I didn’t play around much with the recipe, other than to swap out some of the veges for what I had to hand, namely some lebanese eggplants and zucchini from our garden. It was not a difficult recipe, and the bonus is that there is enough curry paste to make a second batch.

Verdict—this was a lovely tasting, gently spicy and fragrant curry. Definitely a keeper!

Bill Granger’s Green Chicken Curry

Based on the recipe in Bill’s Everyday Asian.

For the curry paste
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 lemongrass stalk, white and pale green parts roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 spring onions, roughly chopped
2 tbs coriander roots, washed and chopped
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
2 tbs sunflower oil
For the curry:
1 tbs sunflower oil
3 tbs green curry paste
125ml chicken stock
250ml coconut milk
1 anchovy, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
500g chicken breasts, cut into 2cm chunks
100g green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-3 cm lengths
1/2 tin baby corn
1/2 tin bamboo shoots
100g lebanese eggplant, cut into 1-2 cm rounds
100g green zucchini, cut into 1-2 cm rounds
100g yellow zucchini, cut into 1-2 cm rounds
1 tbs white sugar
2 tbs fish sauce
1 tb lime juice
handful of basil leaves, torn

To make the curry paste:

Heat a small fry pan over medium heat and dry-toast the peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Add to a food processor with other curry paste ingredients and blitz to make a paste.

To make the curry:

Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Fry the curry paste for 2 minutes unti fragrant.

Add the stock, coconut milk, anchovy and lime leaves and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Add chicken and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the vegetables, sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and simmer for 15 minutes until vegetables are tender and chicken pieces are cooked through.

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with steamed rice.


1. When I make this again, I will pound paste mix in a mortar and pestle before I blitz in the food processor, as I found my machine didn’t do a good job. I ended up transfering the paste to the mortar and pestle for a good pounding to get a good paste consistency.


Chicken and chorizo jambalaya

When I was in my early 20s I moved out of home and across the world. In my first year living in the US, I lived on campus, eating dorm food. And I really really really missed my Mum’s cooking. Even her curries, which I was sure I didn’t like! But it wasn’t until I moved into my first apartment that I discovered cooking.

Before I moved away, I wasn’t much of a cook. I could bake a mean packet cake, and my Dad and I had had a pizza making thing for a while. I could make spag bol, but really, who can’t? And I could make a few other bits and pieces, but nothing special. My limited repertoire quickly wore thin.

So I started looking for other things to cook. One of the recipes I got from Mum early on, scrawled in pencil on a dog-eared piece of paper, was for jambalaya. Jambalaya is a rice-based dish from New Orleans, flavoured with a base of onions, celery and capsicums (bell peppers if you live in the USA) and a liberal dose of Tabasco sauce! I cooked this recipes for years, initially with chicken and bacon, or Canadian bacon in the US, which is a bit more like ham, and eventually using a spicy sausage like kielbasa or even Cajun Andouille sausage.

But eventually I stopped making jambalaya, it just disappeared from my regular selection of meals. We moved back to Australia and I started cooking more south east Asian food. And then I had kids, and my food choices revolved around what I thought the kids might—possibly—eat.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing Pinterest, which is becoming a good place to find a recipe. And I came across this recipe. And it reminded me of something I didn’t even know I’d been missing. It’s a one pot meal, and this recipe easily makes enough to feed 6, if not 8, people!

Too bad my kids don’t like it!

Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

Based loosely on the recipe posted by The Galley Gourmet, with a nod to Paul Prudhomme, and the addition of tomatoes to make it more of a creole style jambalaya.

2 tbs olive oil
1.5kg free range chicken, cut into 8 pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
2 chorizo sausages, sliced 1/2 cm thick
2 small (1 medium) onions, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups long grain white rice
400g tin crushed tomatoes
3 fresh bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock
2 spring onions, chopped
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Tabasco sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces, skin side down first, and fry until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken if necessary.

Add the chorizo sausage and fry for about 5 minutes until the edges start to go brown. Remove to a plate and pour off all but about 3 tbs of the fat in the pan.

Add the onions, celery and capsicum and saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat until they soften. Add the garlic and saute for about 2 more minutes. Then add the cayenne pepper, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix.

Add the rice to the pan and saute until the rice goes opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, the stock and the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Return the chicken and the sausage to the pan. Then cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Gently stir the rice, allow to sit for 5-10 minutes and garnish with spring onions and parsley.

Serve with Tabasco sauce.


1. I used jasmine rice as that is what I had in the cupboard. But ordinary long grain rice would be fine.

2. You could happily substitute canned diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes, again, it was what I had to hand.