Just bringing the risotto rice to an ‘al dente’ texture is a skill in itself, but this dish rewards patience and a delicate touch. Fresh, in season, British broad-beans and garden peas really do bring a little bit of spring to this recipe, and the stuffed chicken thighs wrapped in bacon are a great marriage of flavours.
Stuffed Chicken Thighs On Pea Risotto Recipe
- 6 boned-out chicken thighs
- sea salt and pepper
- 24 rashers rindless streaky bacon
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp Marsala
- ladleful of chicken stock
- 350g good-quality pork sausage meat
- handful of skinned pistachio nuts roughly chopped
- 1 egg yolk
- 4 thyme sprigs leaves stripped and chopped
- handful flat parsley chopped
- 400g risotto rice (such as arborio or carnaroli)
- 1 litre brown chicken (or vegetable) stock
- 150g shelled broad beans
- 150g garden peas (or petits pois), thawed if frozen
- 50g freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra shavings to serve
- 25g butter cut into cubes
- handful fresh chives chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the stuffing: mix the sausage meat with the chopped pistachio nuts, egg yolk, chopped thyme and parsley – season well with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Open out the chicken thighs, season with freshly ground black pepper and then divide the stuffing equally between them. Lay about four bacon rashers on a board, overlapping them slightly. Tightly roll each thigh and put one stuffed chicken portion on top and wrap the bacon around to cover completely. Repeat with the rest of the chicken thighs.
Cut six overly-large pieces of foil and wrap each chicken parcel tightly in one, twisting the ends to seal. A good tip is to roll back and forth over the board to even the shape out. Poach the chicken parcels, two or three at a time, in a large pan of boiling water for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Allow to cool in the foil, then refrigerate for 30 minutes (this helps the bacon to ‘set’ around the chicken). After the allotted time remove the foil and pat the thighs wrapped in bacon dry to remove any excess moisture – reserve for later.
To make the risotto: wash the rice in cold water and strain off. Put the rice into a pan with 500ml of chicken stock, 500ml water and a generous pinch of sea-salt. Bring the stock up to a simmer and simmer the rice for about 7 minutes. Drain the rice well and then spread it evenly out on a lightly oiled baking tray to cool down.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and carefully sauté (brown off) the chicken parcels until the bacon is brown and crisp on all sides, but not breaking away from the thighs. Transfer these to a warm platter and rest in a warm place.
Deglaze the frying pan with the sherry vinegar, then add the Marsala and stock. Keep the heat under the pan until the liquid is reduced by half, then skim off excess fat and check the seasoning.
To finish the risotto, place the blanched rice in a shallow pan and pour in just enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to the boil quickly and cook until nearly all of the stock has evaporated. Taste the risotto to see if is ‘al dente’, cooked and still firm, adding a little more stock if it needs a bit more cooking. Add the broad beans, peas, Parmesan and a few knobs of butter. Cook this for a further few minutes until the beans are tender. Season to taste. Finally add the fresh chives.
Spoon out a little of the pea risotto onto a warmed plate, cut the chicken into thick slices and arrange over the risotto, pour over the Marsala sauce and serve immediately.