Chicken Marsala and Asparagus Risotto (plus a useful tip for leftovers)
A note on preparation: I find it best to pre-cut, chop, slice, etc. all of my ingredients before beginning my cooking. You can see here, I washed and laid out the asparagus to slice, I sliced the onions for the Marsala, as well as the mushrooms. I also pre-chopped all of the onion for the risotto. Ramekins are amazing for this type of prep. You can see them pictured here holding the mushrooms. They cost about a dollar or two at the grocery store, Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma, or any other cooking store (you can probably also get them at Target). Ramekins are wonderful for holding chopped or sliced veggies, spices, oils, or sauces that you plan to use in your dish. This is especially important when cooking something like this meal. This meal was complicated, I will not lie to you. This is not a 30 minute meal or a protein shake. This is something to do on the weekend when you feel like spending time in the kitchen, enjoying the ACT of cooking, not just the finished product. Timing was everything on this dish. I attempted to cook it all around the same time and the result was that the risotto was ready about 15 minutes before everything else, which is BAD because risotto should be eaten fresh (although you can remedy it by adding excess chicken broth (warmed) to thin it out).
Chicken Marsala (Adapted barely from Smittenkitchen.com [my new favorite blog]):
3 whole boneless chicken breasts, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, sliced thin
3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 cup Marsala
1 cup chicken broth
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet heat oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown chicken in 2 batches, transferring with tongs to a large plate as browned.
Discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from skillet and sauté onion and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Marsala and cook mixture, stirring, until Marsala is almost evaporated.
Add broth and chicken with any juices that have accumulated on plate and simmer, turning chicken once, until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken with tongs to a platter.
Simmer mushroom sauce until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Remove skillet from heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and salt and pepper to taste, stirring until butter is just incorporated. Spoon mushroom sauce around chicken.
Asparagus and Shiitake Risotto (From Gourmet 2003)
***I made this recipe without the Shiitake mushrooms because I was already having PLENTY of mushrooms (bella and white) in the Chicken Marsala. The dish was delicious as just asparagus risotto. However, I do have a lot of the risotto leftover, and no Marsala so I may cook the shiitakes separately and add them into the risotto for a new taste!*** 5 cups chicken broth (40 fluid ounces) 1 cup water 1 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, leaving tips 1 1/2 inches long 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter 3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces) 1/2 cup dry white wine 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
Bring broth and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered. [Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl. **As mentioned previously, I skipped this step, as I did not put mushrooms in this particular risotto.**] Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
Ladle in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 20 minutes. (Save leftover broth for thinning.) Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in asparagus and mushrooms, then cover pan and let stand 1 minute. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining broth. Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.
This meal was absolutely fantastic as a leftovers dish. I put both the chicken marsala and the risotto in a large pan. In a small pot I heated up approximately 1/2 cup of chicken broth. I poured the hot chicken broth over the risotto and heated the risotto and chicken over medium-high heat until it seemed warm enough (about 10 minutes). The marsala sauce and mushrooms got mixed in with the risotto, but honestly it tasted delicious. If you didn't want to mix the two, you could reheat the chicken in one pan and the risotto in the other. Obviously this doesn't LOOK as appetizing as the original dish, but I can assure you it tasted fabulous!
Tip for leftovers: Put leftovers in a tupperware container and place a post-it on top saying what it is and when it was made. This small tip will come in handy when you are trying to remember how long ago you made something (and therefore, if it is still good/safe to eat!) Plus, it has the added feature of making your fridge look very organized!