Whats for dinner? – Chicken, leek and Mushroom (cheaters) risotto.

Here is a little secret, despite my Italian heritage and love for cooking I very rarely make a “real” risotto. More often than not I use a *gasp* rice cooker to do the hard work for me. In a perfect world we would all have endless time and patience to stand and stir a pot full of delicious creamy rice grains in their rich bath of stock, but in reality when you have come home from a tough day at work and all you can think about is positioning your tired self on that cloud like sofa to watch bad reality tv this works a treat for something that is relatively fuss free, quick and absolutely delicious. I must not be alone in my use of this device because I recently purchased a “rice and risotto cooker” from Breville (which sadly does not yield as good results as my original standard Breville rice cooker) This is fantastic as every thing can be cooked in the one device and the non stick bowl makes it pretty easy to clean up afterwards.

This is how I use a rice cooker to create a delicious “risotto” these are the instructions for a general rice cooker and not my specialised device.


2 cups of Arborio rice
1 litre of  liquid chicken or vegetable stock
a glass of white wine (two if youre thirsty)
1 large brown onion finely diced
Olive oil
1 leek
Sliced Mushrooms of your choice
1 chicken breast sliced into strips
1 cup of water
Chopped parsley
grated parmesan cheese
1 tbspoon butter (optional)
salt and pepper to season.


1. Turn on your rice cooker to the COOK setting  and place one cup of water into the bowl. Use the steaming basket to steam the sliced chicken breast until cooked.  Put cooked chicken aside while you prepare the risotto and discard any of the water that was used for steaming.

2. Put the cooker back on to the COOK setting (or the sauté setting if your machine has that option) Fry the  diced onion in about 2 centimetres (it seems a lot I know) of good quality olive oil until transparent and then add the leek and half the sliced mushrooms and sauté until they get a bit of colour.

3. Add the rice to the pot and sauté in the vegetable mix for five minutes making sure to stir and coat all of the grain in oil (this is important) The grains will look to absorb some of that oil and this is when you can move onto the next step.
(if you are on sauté setting, change to COOK now)

4. While you heat your stock in the microwave/stove top (not absolutely essential but I think its worth it) pour the glass of wine into the bowl and stir the mixture until you smell the alcohol burn off and see the rice start to absorb the grapey goodness. Add half of the stock to the bowl as well as the remaining mushrooms. Stir the mixture well, pop on the lid and go and check facebook for 5 minutes.

5. After five minutes remove the lid and add the remaining stock, stir well and cover. 

At this point the rice cooker should look after the meal by itself but its a good idea to have a little peak and stir every now and then to make sure all the liquid isn’t gone you can add some warm water if all the liquid is gone. When the rice cooker switches to WARM go and check the rice. The rice should  have turned opaque and the mixture soupy. Taste the rice and make sure that it is *almost* cooked through. Don’t over cook as it will stay in the pot a bit longer and continue to cook in the residual heat. Return the cooked chicken to the bowl.

6. Stir through a table spoon of butter, some chopped parsley and a couple of table spoons of grated parmesan. The cheese and butter will give the rice that rich, creamy taste and texture (but can be omitted) and also season the meal. Taste the risotto and add more cheese and season to taste. Stir a final time and leave on WARM for up to half an hour before serving.

This can be the base for many different risottos, you can play around with the flavourings and protein and vegetables to create some of your restaurant favourites. Try adding a cup of tomato passata along with the stock and substituting red wine for white for a tasty red risotto. Saute some bacon in the early stages for added deliciousness, Steam some muscles and add green prawns to the bowl to make a marinara to die for or add some baked pumpkin, spinach leaves and pinenuts for something different. The possibilities are endless as long as you follow the general rules above.

Have a go.. at best you can create a flawless risotto and at worst a delicious plate of chicken, rice and vegetables. It might not come out perfect but its really hard to not create a delicious dinner.

Clockwise; Steaming chicken,  continue to stir rice until wine is absorbed, As the rice becomes more opaque and liquid is absorbed add more stock, check the rice is cooked before adding cheese and butter.
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