Kale, Lemon Chicken, and Bacon Risotto


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.

Published in: on May 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Sausage, Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

Sausage?  What kind of sausage is pink?  OK, I admit, I messed with the recipe again…

We’re not huge risotto fans so I worried that a “plate of mushy rice” would not pass as dinner. I considered grilling some shrimp from the freezer with the risotto as the side dish. But in the end, I decided to go with the recipe as is, but I couldn’t get the idea of shrimp out of my head. So I took just a few shrimp and sauteed them in the remaining sausage/garlic/onion/mushroom oil. I chopped them into bite-size bits and put them on the top so they could easily be tossed to the side if this was a really bad idea. BUT, the shrimp was quite good. You had enough to bite into with the shrimp bits so that the risotto didn’t seem mushy to us. But then again, the whole risotto was quite tasty. I think this risotto could be made with shrimp instead of the sausage as long as the shrimp was well-seasoned.

Another winning recipe from the authors of Desperation Dinners. Sadly I don’t think they run this in our UT newspaper anymore which is a shame because these ladies offered some good recipes that you could make in under a half hour.

Funny, the online recipe link says the newspaper article got it wrong.  It said vegetable broth. (so I used chicken broth)  Online it says to use vegetable juice! Now I’ll have to make it again some time to see what it tastes like with the V8 juice. I can’t imagine! My changes were that I added 2 cloves of garlic to the onions and I used chicken broth and chicken basil sausage rather than Italian sausage.

Recipe Article Link

And because I’ve had other recipes disappear when the link disappeared, I decided to copy and paste it right here.

Sausage, Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup Arborio rice
1 can (14 ounces) low-sodium tomato-vegetable juice, such as V-8*  ( I used chicken broth)
1 link (about 1/4 pound) Italian turkey sausage, or sausage of choice, casing removed and crumbled  (I used chicken basil sausage)
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
1/2 cup finely chopped onion  ( also added 2 cloves of minced garlic)
1/2 cup finely chopped pencil-thin asparagus*
1/2 cup white wine or apple juice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Place butter and oil in a 1 1/2-quart microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered on high, until butter melts, about 1 minute. Stir in rice and microwave, uncovered on high, until rice begins to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato juice, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap (or use a lid), and microwave on high until mixture reaches a full boil, 7 to 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook sausage, onion and mushrooms in a medium nonstick skillet until sausage is cooked through. Remove rice mixture from microwave, uncover, and stir well. Continue to microwave on high, uncovered, for 5 more minutes, or until rice is almost done. (Rice should be moist, al dente in texture, but not soupy).

Stir in sausage mixture, asparagus and wine. Continue to microwave, uncovered, until rice is done and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cheese and serve immediately. Serve additional cheese for topping at the table, if desired.

Cooking Notes

Our Desperation Dinners newspaper column mistakenly referred to the V-8 as vegetable “broth.” What you need here is V-8 juice. Sorry for the mix-up!

They also have a Ham and Asparagus recipe  which I haven’t tried, but in case I want to, here’s the link: Ham and Asparagus Risotto

And to add to the repertoire, I also made a risotto with asparagus, bacon, and bella mushrooms. Basically the same technique — mmm– wait… I didn’t use the microwave.  I do it on the stove. Cooked the bacon and asparagus first and sauteed the mushrooms.  Set everything aside.  Started the risotto with onion, garlic and then the rice in the saucepan with bacon fat and olive oil. I added the asparagus, bacon, mushroom back in at the end when the rice was just about finished at a slightly al dente texture. Sprinkled in some rosemary, but could also use oregano or marjoram.

Published in: on October 30, 2010 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Turkey Pesto Loaf with ‘Rice-a-Roni Rafforzata’

Turkey Meat Loaf

Luigi wanted me to use up pesto from Trader Joe’s that was way too salty.  I had made this meat loaf before, and he thought it would be a good way to get rid of this salty pesto.  He was right!  Not only did it taste OK, it looked really pretty with the tomato sauce on the outside and the green pesto and mozzarella cheese on the inside. Recipe is in my Black Recipe book. (3 years later – 2012 – HA! that comment about the recipe being in my black recipe book was written before I decided I needed to make this an online recipe book to save all my good recipes from the day that the books get burned in a fire or get lost in a move. So, I will add the recipe now.)

Pesto Meatloaf

  • 1-1/4 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped (fine)
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (divided use)
  • 4 tblsp prepared pesto
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly oil a nonstick cookie sheet with sides

In a large bowl, combine the turkey, onion, bread crumbs, eggs and 1/3 cup of the tomato sauce.  Mix well.

On a large piece of aluminum foil, spread the mixture in a rectangle about 12 inches by 10 inches. Spread the pesto sauce over the meat mixture. Top with the shredded cheese. Leave a 1-inch margin around the loaf to prevent the cheese from  seeping out during the baking. (fat chance; it always seeps out for me.)

Roll up the meat mixture jellyroll style. Smooth seams with wet hands.

Place the loaf on the cookie sheet and bake 50 minutes. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the loaf. Bake another 15 minutes. Let the loaf sit 10 minute before slicing.

(From the Great American Meatloaf Contest Cookbook; Hearst Books)


Rice – a- Roni Rafforzata

As a side dish I wanted to make a mushroom risotto, but didn’t have time to go to the store to buy arborio rice.  So, I gave up on the idea and decided to just serve Rice-a-Roni with the meat loaf.  But then I realized that Rice-a-Roni also has short round rice like arborio rice and I thought I’d try the mushroom risotto recipe with the packaged  rice-a-roni.  I combined risotto recipes with the directions on the Rice-a-Roni box  and came up with an enhanced Rice-a-Roni, but it sounds so much better in Italian — Rice-a-Roni Rafforzata!

Here’s what I did:

  • 1 package Rice-a-Roni (chicken, low sodium)
  • 1  1/2 cup quartered mushrooms (crimini and white button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry marsala wine
  • 2 cups water (may need to add another 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or other Italian blended cheese
  • minced parsley

Saute onions in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add Rice-a-Roni and saute, stirring constantly until vermicelli starts turning golden.  Add 3/4 minced garlic.  Stir another 2 or 3 minutes till garlic is aromatic.  Add marsala wine. Stir until wine evaporates.  Slowly add the water, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until the water simmers. When it starts to simmer, repeat, adding the next 1/2 cup  and stirring until all two cups are in the pan.  Add about 3/4 of the seasoning mix. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, slice the mushrooms and saute with the remaining minced garlic.  Set aside.  Stir into the rice after it has cooked for 15 minutes.  Add more liquid if necessary.  Let simmer another 5 minutes or until rice is cooked to perfection.  Add cheese; adjust seasonings to taste.  Just before serving stir in parsley.   Enjoy  Rice-a-Roni Rafforzata, a San Diego treat!

Published in: on December 4, 2009 at 3:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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