Monday 24 May 2010

Salted Chicken with Scarlet Risotto

Salted chicken and beetroot risotto 3

I’ve settled into my flat in Gothenburg and took untold amounts of pleasure in unpacking all my kit that has arrived from the UK. Having lived without books and my kitchen kit for a month or so, the process of arranging my small library and kitchen was particularly satisfying. I now feel settled and ready to embrace everything that Sweden has to offer.

I’ve bought two Swedish cooking books to act as my culinary bibles – The Scandinavian Kitchen which is quite everyday and Aquavit for when you want to experiment.

I set off to the supermarket with the intention of cooking salted duck which I found in the Aquavit book. But when I could only find frozen “Anka” for 11 pounds a breast I decided a change of tack was in order. ICA Focus has a fantastic range of pork and beef. But if you want chicken, lamb or duck you’re in for disappointment. And even more so if you can’t understand the language. It makes it so hard to know what cut of meat you are looking at. Especially when they are butchered slightly differently to in the UK. I’m now determined to learn Swedish from a cooking perspective!

After 30 minutes of walking backwards and forward, in a mild state of panic, I selected a rather expensive, but very fine looking chicken breast from the organic section and decided to cure it in brine instead of the duck and to accompany it with a blazing red risotto stained with beetroot and sundried tomato. It was one of those spur of the moment about turns in a supermarket that transforms your mood from being a bit bleak to bouncing down the aisle to the checkout – eager to turn the hob on and get cooking.


For the chicken

1 chicken breast
4 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
Loads of thyme

For the scarlet risotto

1 beetroot
Risotto rice
3 sun dried tomatoes
Salt and pepper


Make a brine by boiling a pan of water and dissolving the salt and sugar. Once boiled allow to cool and add the thyme. Then submerge your chicken breast and weigh it down with a bowl. Allow to cure for up to 12 hours. The brining process makes the meat very tender and juicy. And means that the skin will crisp up beautifully. It's a technique that pops up repeatedly in Scandinavian cooking.

In the meantime, dice a beetroot and add to a pan full of water. Boil for 20 minutes until tender. Drain the red water into another pan and reserve. This will be your stock.

In a heavy bottomed pan sweat an onion in butter and olive oil. Then add the chopped beetroot and your rice. Allow to crackle in the fact and watch it turn red. Then add the stock bit by bit as normal and enjoy the experience of making one of the scariest looking risottos you can imagine. Cut your sun dried tomatoes into slithers and lob them in to. They will add a nice tartish note to the sweet and earthy rice. Once the stock has absorbed and the rice is cooked beat in a wad of butter and watch it turn glossy like a tin of Dulux paint.

Beetroot risotto close 2

Dry your chicken breast and coat in oil and a squeeze of lemon. Roast for 25 minutes.

Assemble and eat.

The earthy risotto is the perfect foil for the salted chicken which is moist and graced with crispy skin. As a combination it works like a dream and is a great conversation starter because it looks so strange!


Manggy said...

At least with chicken, if you buy a whole one, it'll be easier to butcher yourself! ;) Like the richly colored risotto - but of course, I love the irresistible chicken skin!

Unknown said...

Love the idea of the rich beetroot risotto - a perfect pick me up on dark Scandinavian nights (or bright nights as they are at the moment)

Helen (Fuss Free Flavours) said...

Love the risotto. I was sent some beetroot powder the other day to play with and I can't wait to get started - forget delicate pink - I want blood red. I am sure this would have a halloween use to thrill small children with a bloodied rice dish. Or the like.

Unknown said...
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Dom said...

I'm also loving the blood red risotto.. what a genius idea that totally wakes up the plate!

Dan said...

Incredible colour and sheen on that Risotto Browners. Looks incredibly good.

Paunchos said...

@Manggy - I'll probably get a whole on next time. It's far more economical. I just wasn't going to be in my flat for the next week or so.

@Gourmet Chick - Glad you like the risotto. I was shocked at how red it came out.

@Helen - It's definitely got potential as a halloween dish. Super scary.

@Dom - It certainly wakes the plate up. Would be fun to make into arancini the next day.

@Dan - Glad you like the sheen. That's the power of butter for you!

Tim Fredriksson said...

I think you are very ambitious, and I'm proud that you want to try our Swedish food. But don't believe the stuff in Aquavit. Most people only eat spaghetti and tomatosauce 4/7 days a week.
/Tim Fredriksson

Paunchos said...

@Tim Frederiksson - I think I'd get a bit bored just writing about pasta and tomato sauce! Love your blog by the way. It's had me chuckling away to myself.

Unknown said...

After seeing the photo of this i just had to make it! Had it for dinner tonight at it was cracking, just need to work on getting the risotto that deep red used to much water to make the stock. Also used cooked Beet root just did not get the red i was looking for. Was still really tasty will surly have a second go at it. Thanks for the idea

Jonathan said...

@Robert - Delighted to hear you enjoyed it. With a spot of fresh beetroot and a little less water you'll be almost blinded by the colouration.

JCMurray said...

When you brine the chicken do you just leave it on the counter? It's hot summer here, and it would have to go in the fridge, would 12 hours still be long enough?
Cool idea on the risotto.

Paunchos said...

@JCMurray - Yeah go for it. Leave it in the brine for 12 hours in the fridge. Should work perfectly.

Dom said...

Just to let you all know... I have bought the ingredients and i'm going to make the risotto tonight... but i'm going to do double risotto, serving this on the same plate as a pea risotto so you get the intense red next to the green... i'll photo and report back!

Dom said...

Well... it didn't work out exactly as planned but tasted delicious none the less... check it out:

Paunchos said...

@Dom - Yours looks great. Absolutely love the idea of doing 2 different colours on the same plate. Inspired.


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