A Comfort Food “Taste”

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February 12, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

It’s Tuesday again. Already!?! I know. Where has the last week gone? Well, I’m pretty certain I’ve wasted a good portion of my days thinking about comfort food thanks to last week’s episode of ABC’s The Taste. The chefs were challenged to cook a whole array of comfort foods. Dishes ranged from classic Americana to a grand spectrum of traditional tastes from the contestants’ various heritages. We had mac and cheese sizzling, bibimbap steaming, chicken noodle soup simmering, southern grits brewing, dumplings steaming, braised beef stewing. You name it, if someone has ever been comforted by a plate of food, one of the chefs was probably putting it on a tasting spoon.

So what in the world should I make for a little comfort food taste?? Well here’s how my brain processed this one: hmm… mac and cheese, yummy but expected. A soup or stew, good, but I’ve been cooking up a storm of those lately. Fried chicken an old stand by, but not quite a personal classic. Then it hit me – what is a comfort food that has transcended the generations… casserole. While part of me wanted to whip up a good ol’ tuna noodle (yes, I’m talking about the can of tuna, can of cream of mushroom, some egg noodles, saltines crumbled on top and all), my mind clung onto the feeling you get when a creamy rice casserole comes out of the oven. Perfectly softened but never mushy rice. Crispy crunchy edges. Just the right amount of sauce. Flavorful pops of vegetables and juicy meat.

And that was when the true aha moment happened! What is the most comforting food in my repertoire? What do I really love to cook that gives me that heart-warming hug on a long cold day?? Risotto!! And I can give a nod to the classic rice casserole by stirring in some green beans and slapping some mushrooms on top. Yes! Now we’re talking… what’s more comforting than Chicken Marsala and a creamy-dreamy cheesy Haricot Vert Risotto.


To get the timing of this dish right I started the risotto, then when I’d added about half my liquids, turned the heat to very low, slowing down, but not stopping the cooking process. Then I cooked the chicken and made the mushroom sauce while adding the final ingredients to the risotto.


Instead of beginning the risotto with traditional white wine, I used a bit of Marsala to tie the flavors of the entire dish together.


Once the risotto began to soften, absorbing about half the broth, I browned the chicken.


Next I sautéed the mushrooms, then added the Marsala to deglaze and reduce to thicken.


Once the chicken and sauce were ready to serve, I stirred the haricot vert and parmesan along with the final 1/3 cup of chicken broth into the risotto. I dolloped a spoonful of rich and creamy risotto onto each taste-sized plate, topped with a perfect bite of chicken, and some saucy mushrooms.


Chicken Marsala with Haricot Vert Risotto

Serves 4

For the Risotto:

4 oz. haricot vert

½ Tbs. olive oil

¼ cup shallots, diced

1 cup Arborio rice

¼ cup Marsala wine

4 cups chicken broth

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

For the Chicken:

¼ cup flour, plus 1 Tbs.

4 chicken breasts, scallopini

2 Tbs olive oil, divided

2 Tbs butter, divided

8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced

½ cup Marsala wine

½ cup chicken broth

Begin by blanching the haricot vert in boiling water for 3 minutes. Remove and slice into 1-inch pieces. Reserve.

Heat ½ Tbs. olive oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, sauté for 3 minutes, then add the Arborio and toast for 2 more minutes. Pour in the Marsala and stir until just dissolved. Begin adding the broth in the same manner, about 1/3 cup at a time.  Stir rice continually as the liquid is absorbed.  When the rice soaks up most of the liquid and only a bubbly starch remains, add more broth.  Continue 1/3 cup at a time until all but ½ cup of the broth has been added.  Then add the sliced haricot vert and parmesan cheese. Stir in the remaining broth just before serving.

Preheat oven to 250˚F.

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, then dredge through flour, shaking off the excess. Brown the chicken, two breasts at a time, over medium-high heat in a large skillet, about 3 minute each side. Place in the oven to keep warm.

Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to the pan and sauté the sliced mushrooms. Don’t stir for the first 3 minutes, then sprinkle with flour and mix and continue cooking for 2 more minutes, until browned. Add 1 Tbs. butter, then deglaze with Marsala wine. Reduce by half, then add the chicken broth and continue to reduce again by half. Place the chicken breasts (and any juices) in the pan to coat.

Serve the chicken atop the risotto with the Marsala sauce.


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