Chicken and Leek Risotto is the ultimate comfort food on a cold day.
Rich and creamy, the Italian-inspired dish features arborio rice leek risotto, crispy roasted chicken thighs and parmesan cheese.
Fork through a bowl of our quick & easy roast chicken and leek risotto recipe featuring flavourful smoke paprika, butter, olive oil, white wine, sherry, lemon, chicken broth and thyme.
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What Is Risotto?
Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. The broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. Many types of risotto contain butter, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.
Risotto in Italy is normally a first course served before the main course, but risotto alla milanese is often served with osso buco as a main course.
Rice has been grown in southern Italy since the 14th century, and its cultivation eventually reached Milan in the north. While, according to a legend, a young glassblower’s apprentice of the Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano from Flanders, who used to use saffron as a pigment, added it to a rice dish at a wedding dinner.
The first recipe identifiable as risotto dates from 1809. It includes rice sautéed in butter, sausages, bone marrow, onions with hot saffron broth.
A high-starch, low-amylose round medium- or short- grain white rice is usually used for making Italian risotto. Such rices have the ability to absorb liquids and to release starch and so they are stickier than the long grain varieties. The principal varieties used in Italy are Arborio, Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano.
Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy even if no cream is added, due to the starch in the grains. It has some resistance or bite (like pasta, t is described as al dente) and separate grains.
We like to serve this Chicken and Leek Risotto recipe seasonally during the cooler months of the year in the Fall and Winter.
Travel to Italy by Cooking Chicken and Leek Risotto at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to Italy is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Volterra, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sorano, Montalcino, Siena) are unique from what you’d find in Venice, Modena, Milan, Rome, and Amalfi Coast.
Once back home from your holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Italy and can impress friends and family by making our homemade chicken and leek risotto recipe.
My Family Loves Chicken and Leek Risotto
Like many Canadians and Americans, one of my family’s favourite comfort foods to enjoy at dinner is a steaming bowl of rice. While pasta may be Italy’s most famous carb, you’ll find creamy risotto is just as satisfying.
Risotto’s can be served year round but we like to focus on celebrating the season based on what ingredients are available at the local farmers market. In the Spring, make a risotto featuring fresh peas and asparagus. In the summer, corn, tomatoes, artichoke and eggplant are ideal.
This Chicken and Leek Risotto reminds me of family dinners enjoyed on a cool Fall or Winters day. The first time I made this dish was at the family cottage in Muskoka in October after spending a day raking leaves. It satisfies at dinner after enjoying the great outdoors on a chilly afternoon.
I knew my family would love this recipe because they are fans of big flavours and textures such as butter fried leeks, lemon zest, crispy spiced roast chicken skin, and parmigiano reggiano.
Where To Eat Risotto
If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Italian restaurant that serves their own take on Chicken and Leek Risotto.
Haven’t traveled to Italy before? It may be helpful to first sample this Fall risotto at a local Italian restaurant to better understand how the dish might be served. You’ll learn about the desired consistency of the risotto, perfect rice to chicken ratio, and spices to flavour the crispy chicken skin.
In Toronto, popular Italian restaurants in Yorkville, King West and Ossington that may serve Chicken Leek Risotto include Bar Vendetta, Buca, Superpoint, Amano, Fabbrica, Oretta, FIGO, Nodo, Locale Mercatto, The Good Son, Taverna Mercatto, Ascari Enoteca, Il Fornello or Gusto 101.
Chicken and Leek Risotto Health Benefits
Our easy Chicken and Leek Risotto recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Leeks are a member of the onion family, a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of leeks can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods.
Nearly 50% of the people in the world get over 50% of their daily calories from rice. If eating brown rice featuring nutritious bran you’ll enjoy health benefits like cancer risk reduction and diabetes control.
A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, lemons help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.
Rich in energy-boosting manganese and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, thyme may help keep your blood and immune system healthy.
How To Cook Chicken and Leek Risotto
This homemade risotto is quick and easy to make at home.
- Use a large nonstick skillet with a high rim to reduce splatter when cooking.
- We suggest using a high quality rubber spatula when making risotto so you can easily stir, scrape down the side of the skillet and sip to check if it needs to be seasoned further with more salt.
- We’ve used chicken thighs in this recipe as the meat is tender and flavourful and skin crisps up nicely. You could also substitue for chicken legs, drumsticks or wings.
- It’s important to cook risotto low and slow. Don’t try and rush the process or you will not achieve the desired creamy texture.
- If you don’t have a lot of spices in your cupboard you can make a more simple roast chicken by tossing the thighs in salt and pepper.
- We suggest using a dry white wine like riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot gris or pinot grigio.
- We love to double this recipe as leftovers make for an easy lunch the next day.
What To Serve with Risotto
There’s nothing more comforting on a cold day then cozying up to a bowl of creamy risotto topped with crispy roasted chicken.
We love serving this chicken and leek risotto with other Italian favourites such as Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu, Healthy Breakfast Polenta Bowl, Cheesy Polenta, Creamy Warm Orzo Lemon Salad, Pici Cacio e Pepe Pasta, Ricotta Gnocchi, Homemade Corzetti Pasta, Burrata Bruschetta Crostini with Tomato Chutney, Culurgiones Sardinian Cheese & Potato Stuffed Pasta, Caramelized Shallot Pasta in Cream Sauce, Involtini di Pollo, and Creamy Parmesan Ditalini Soup.
Serve the recipe with your favourite craft beer, fine wine or craft cocktails.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka?
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If you have leftover risotto you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or simmer in a small saucepan on the stove with a splash of chicken stock.
We love doubling our risotto recipe so we can store leftovers in the fridge and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover risotto in Pyrex container that has a snug lid so there’s no spilling.
Best Homemade Chicken and Leek Risotto Recipe
Lemon Chicken and Leek Risotto
- 8 Bone-in Skin-on Chicken Thighs
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 2 Leeks finely chopped, roots and dark green tops removed
- 1 cup Arborio Rice
- 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
- 3 tbsp Dry Sherry
- 1 Lemon juiced and zested
- 2 cups Chicken Broth
- 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
- 1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a large bowl, toss chicken thighs, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Place chicken thighs skin side up in a roasting pan and bake for 45 minutes. Transfer cooked chicken to a platter and set aside. Reserve juices.
- Once chicken has been placed in the oven immediately put a large skillet on the stove and add butter. Warm butter over medium heat and add the leeks, sauteing for 4-5 minutes until tender.
- Add rice, season to taste and stir. Add wine, sherry, lemon juice and lemon zest, stirring to scrape up browned bits at the bottom of the skillet.
- For the next 30-45 minutes, slowly stir risotto with a wooden spoon while adding chicken broth in 1/4 cup intervals every few minutes. The rice will slowly absorb the broth as you stir it. Don't add all of the broth in at once. To release the starch of the rice you need to slowly stir it with broth over time to ensure a creamy texture.
- Taste the rice after 30 minutes and if it is al dente add the reserved chicken juices. Stir for an additional 2-3 minutes before pouring the risotto onto a serving platter. Top the rice with chicken thighs (crispy skin-side up) and garnish with fresh thyme, parmesan cheese and lemon wedges. Serve hot.
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