risoto - meat & vegan version


I never liked risotto when growing up. My mom used to just cook white rice, then cook chicken meat, mix it together without any amount of gravy and only with some frozen (and back defrosted:)) pies and corn. That was it - totally dry mass of food. Taste was ok but consistency not so. Then I got an idea how to make it better:) Add some gravy! Cook the meat and vegetable in their own juice, add water if needed when the meat's still not tender enough. And finally - leave the gravy with it when mixing in the rice. Yummy!

Everyone who tried this risotto fell in love with it instantly. So did my boyfriend until it happened that he became a vegetarian. It was the end of my world until I realized I could cook most of my favorite meals in a vegetarian alternative way. So here it is - the best risotto ever. Two alternatives - meat and vegetarian (both in the recipe below). Enjoy!

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of brown rice,

  • 500 g/1 pound of chicken breasts (no meat for the vegetarian version),

  • 1 big onion,

  • 1 head of broccoli,

  • scallions,

  • cilantro,

  • 2 big green peppers,

  • 1 cucumber,

  • frozen mix of corn, carrot and peas,

  • fresh basil,

  • oil, salt, black pepper, paprika

  • 3 cups of vegetable broth (for the vegetarian version only).

Preparation:

Mince the onion into small pieces and divide in two parts. Place one half of the prepared onion in boiling oil in a large frying pan. When the onion is roasted enough, add diced chicken breasts and keep stirring occasionally for few minutes.

After add some water to cover all amount of meat, salt according to your taste, add basil, paprika, black pepper and thyme and let cook for about an hour. For the vegetarian alternative go to the fourth paragraph and start with vegetables instead of the meat. Do the oil and onion thing as described above and then add vegetables.

Now prepare the rice. Use the rest of minced onion, place it into boiling oil in a pot and when it's roasted enough, add 2 cups of rice. Stir the rice together with oil and onion and add 6 cups of water to cover it. I don't usually use any exact amount of water but I do check it few times while cooking to find out if it needs some more water (if the rice is not soft yet but there is only a little of water you would want to add some more). Last time however I used the amounts mentioned above and it worked well for me. Salt according to your taste and let cook, after boiling reduce the temperature and cook covered for another hour or until done. All amount of water should by now be absorbed in the rice (if not, turn it still off and the rice will absorb the rest of it in few minutes) and the rice is ready to serve.

While the meat is being cooked, prepare the vegetable.

Cut broccoli into small pieces, do the same with green peppers, cucumber, scallions and cilantro. When ready, stir into meat also with corn or frozen vegetable mix and continue cooking. During cooking, make sure there is still some amount of water in the pot, you want some gravy to stay there.

(For VEGETARIAN VERSION: After roasting onion on boiling oil add broccoli into the pan. Stir it for a while, then use the vegetable broth and cover the broccoli with it. Add salt, black pepper, and paprika. Cook until boiling and add the rest of the vegetables. You should then cook them until done - that means until all vegetables are so tender you would be able to mash them with a fork.) Again - make sure there is still some amount of gravy in the pan, you will need it for the best final result.

After an hour the meat should be done, but make sure to taste it before deciding to switch cook range off (when making the vegetarian alternative, it needs a little shorter time to get done, you'll know it when the vegetables are perfectly soft). There should still be some gravy in the pot.

By now everything is ready to be done. All you need to do is mix in the prepared rice, stir it properly and serve. Bon appetite!

#broccoli #maincourse #vegan #vegetarian #rice #meat

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