Serbian Chicken Risotto
I used to hate this as a kid. The smell of boiling chicken never worked for me and it wasn’t until I was in my teens that I really developed a liking for rice. Today this dish is one of my favourites.
They used to serve a very good Serbian chicken and rice in The Gay Hussar on Greek Street, and more than once I would find myself lunching on it with a nice bottle of white, while discussing how best to shoot a dog food commercial until the late hours of the afternoon—living the dream.
Srpski piletine i riže—sirp-ski pea-latin-a ee ree-za
Add one and half tablespoons of Vegeta to two litres of water, bring to the boil and simmer. Meanwhile joint a chicken into eight pieces and season. Discard carcass or save for soup or stock making.
Heat a large cast iron shallow saucepan. Add two tablespoons of sunflower oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, place the pieces of chicken in the pan and cook for five minutes on each side over a medium heat.
Turn up the heat and add the Vegeta stock to the pan. The chicken should be about two thirds submerged in the stock. Save any leftover stock as you may need it later. Once the stock begins to boil reduce heat, place a lid on the pan and simmer for twenty minutes.
Chop carrots and peppers into cubes, add to the chicken, and continue cooking for another ten minutes. Remove chicken pieces from the pan and set aside. Pass the liquid through a sieve and save liquid, carrots and peppers.
Return the pan to a medium heat and add one tablespoon of sunflower oil. When the oil is hot add rice, followed by white wine or vermouth, sizzle for no more than a minute.
Pour a ladle of saved liquid into the rice. Stir in paprika, and then return chicken pieces, carrots and peppers to the pan. When the liquid starts to bubble reduce heat and simmer gently. As the rice absorbs the liquid add more liquid a ladle at a time. Stir occasionally, the rice should not be allowed to stick to the bottom of the pan. This process of cooking the rice should take about twenty minutes.
Towards the end of the process you might want to add half a ladle of liquid at a time as you do not want to end up with rice soup, but a nice wet rice with a bit of bite. If you run out of liquid and the rice isn’t ready, use any leftover vegetable stock you saved earlier.
Once the rice is ready, sprinkle with half a bunch of chopped parsley, and serve from the pan. I suggest a side dish of lettuce salad dressed in a simple olive oil and white wine vinegar vinaigrette.
300 grams of Arborio rice
4 small carrots
2 red bell peppers
1½ tablespoons of Vegeta (or vegetable bouillon)*
2 teaspoons of Hungarian mild paprika**
1½ litres of water
75ml of white wine or vermouth
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
Half a bunch of flat leaf parsley
*Asda, Polish and Turkish Delicatessens.
**Spice Shop, Portabello Road Market. www.thespiceshop.co.uk