Kale, Lemon Chicken, and Bacon Risotto

baconkalerisotto2

I looked at a variety of recipes and, as usual, made one up. My basic philosophy is use more or less of what you like or don’t like. Like more kale or chicken? Add it. Don’t like a lot of bacon, or love bacon? Adjust according to your taste. Here is what worked for our tastes.

  • 1 cup arborio rice (works with orzo too)
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock (used about 2 cups with orzo)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 pieces of bacon (according to taste)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) coarsely chopped crimini mushrooms
  • about 4 – 5 cups of chopped kale (I had lacinta or tucson Kale)
  • a little lemon juice
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup (leftover) chicken cubes/pieces cooked with lemon pepper or any seasoning. I squirted them with lemon juice to give them a fresh lemony taste.

Though you are only frying a couple of pieces of bacon, use a pan big enough for the whole dish. I used a 10-11 inch frying pan. Fry the bacon, remove, and once it cools, tear in little pieces. Pour off the excess bacon fat, leaving about 1 tsp fat to sauté the chopped onion in the same pan till onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic for the final minute. (if dry, can add a tsp. of butter,oil, or bacon fat)

Add the cup of rice and stir to coat with the fat over medium heat. (If you need to add more fat, do so, but only as much as needed to coat the rice.) Keep stirring to try to get the rice translucent with white in the middle, but not burned. (After what seemed like 10 minutes I didn’t see too much translucence and remembered a comment on one of the recipes I read said hers didn’t get translucent but she carried on and it was fine so I did the same.) There were a few odd rice grains that did have that tranlucence after about 10 minutes so I decided it was time to continue. (When I tried this with orzo, I didn’t wait for the translucence; just sauteed for a few minutes.)

Add the wine, stir and cook till the wine is gone. All recipes say the broth should be heated, but not boiling so I just nuked it to make it very hot.  Pour about 1/2 cup on the rice (about enough to cover) and let it bubble up while stirring.  (One of the recipes said you didn’t have to stir constantly so I did walk away and prepare the kale while it simmered, but watched from the corner of my eye.)  You want the rice cooking gently, but not burning on the bottom. When the liquid is gone, reheat another 1/2 cup or so of broth and pour in enough to just cover the top of rice and stir. Repeat this with the second cup of broth, remembering to heat your broth before adding to the pan. This may all take about 35 – 45 minutes. (Orzo option: I had read that you can pour in all the liquid with orzo and not spend the time stirring.  I still poured only about 3/4 cup warmed broth at a time and did a little stirring, but not much. I did check to see if orzo was just about cooked before going on to next steps.)

Slice the kale in strips. (I put it in a big bowl with about 1 tablespoon of chicken broth over it and microwaved for about 1 minute at medium.  It was slightly wilted. (I have also put in raw kale with the last cup of broth and it worked just fine; no need to wilt first.)

Heat the 3rd and final cup of broth.  Add 1/2 cup and throw in the cooked chicken, bacon bits, and a squeeze of lemon. Stir while it cooks and the liquid disappears.

Put the kale in the risotto with the last half cup of liquid. (if using unwilted kale, put it in with chicken)  I added a few squeezes of lemon too, but this is optional. Keep stirring to make sure nothing burns. Stir in about 1/8 cup of parmesan. (more if you like it cheesier) Add salt carefully because bacon, chicken broth, and cheese can be salty.

Serve with more grated parmesan on top. I squeezed a bit more lemon on mine because I liked the fresh lemon taste with the kale. Add salt and pepper to taste.

How many people can you feed with this? The recipes I consulted may have said serves 4. Well, we get about 3 dinner servings out of this recipe because we really like it. (So we are piggies…)  I served with a tomato (and onion) salad.

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Published in: on May 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kale with Sausage and Chick Peas

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This is a recipe from the South Beach Diet Book. My good friend, Tracy served this to me in Vermont a couple of summers ago and I loved it, but I’ve never had the nerve to buy kale.  Recently I picked up a box of Baby Kales on special, remembering how much I enjoyed this dish. I followed the recipe except I used more garlic and I added some whole wheat  pasta bow ties because I didn’t think I had enough Kale.  There wasn’t a lot of pasta; I didn’t want this to be a pasta dish with kale, rather a kale and sausage dish with a side of “healthy” pasta. (Actually the whole wheat pasta was perfect because it could stand up to the heartiness of the dish.) I put the  cooked pasta in the pan with the kale and allowed it to soak up all the delicious juices of the broth. My chicken Italian sausage was quite spicy, and the kale was very tasty. We’ve always done spinach with sausage (Luigi’s Italian grandmother’s dish), but I think I like the kale better because it’s heartier, and I really liked the addition (for us) of the chick peas. All and all, a big hit.

Update:  I have made this with half spinach/half kale, white beans instead of garbanzos and still very delicious. I have also since finally bought a bunch of kale, so no longer am I dependent on those pricey boxes of baby kale to make this.

Ingredients

1/2 tablespoon Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound Reduced-fat sweet or hot Italian turkey sausages
1/2 Small onion, diced
1-1/2 Garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup Lower-sodium chicken broth
1/2 (1-pound) bunch Kale, stemmed and roughly chopped (3 to 3-1/2 cups)
1/2 (15-ounce) can Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausages and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally, 6 minutes. Remove from pan and cut each sausage in half on the diagonal.

Add onion and garlic to the same saucepan and cook over medium heat until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Add kale, cover, and cook until wilted and softened, about 8 minutes.

Add sausages and cook, covered, until no longer pink in the center, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas and continue cooking, covered, until heated through, 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot, spooning any remaining cooking liquid on top.

And just for fun and memories, here are photos of the day when I ate kale for the first time in Vermont with the view of the beautiful lake.  The lake was sparkling on that day!

The kale we ate came from Tracy’s garden!

And here we are after that delicious meal!

Published in: on October 1, 2012 at 8:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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