All the Garlic, All the Time: Garlic Chicken Risotto

“What’s for dinner?”

The way that you somehow know which food sounds good to eat at any given moment kind of astounds me. Do I want Italian tonight? Burritos? Maybe a banh mi? Or just an open box of Triscuits, a jar of Nutella, and a handful of Craisins? Sometimes I want something light and delicate and citrusy and green.

And then sometimes: sometimes I just want garlic.

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If this garlic-loving mood ever strikes you, I have the exact perfect thing: a gorgeously thick risotto with garlic two ways. It’s not delicate, it is not subtle; this pops you upside the head with flavor. Sharp pops of heat from the finely minced bits, and a soft, oozing unctuousness that tastes like nothing so much as sweet, mild honey, from the slow-cooked whole cloves. They are seriously magical, and you will probably wish that you had more than what the recipe calls for.

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I ended up skipping on the risotto-standard cheese finish — it was already easily rich enough, and I honestly kind of didn’t want the cheese to interfere with my garlicfest. The same restraint didn’t apply when it came time to consider the white truffle oil. (Sidenote: regardless of what unabashed berk Gordon Ramsay, et al. have to say on the matter, you can try to pry my white truffle oil out of my cold, dead hands…but chances are good I will reanimate as a zombie to prevent you. And then I will eat your brains. With white truffle oil on top.)

I will admit that I ate this on a pleasant solitary evening, curled up on my couch with a Doctor Who marathon, so i can’t speak to the state of one’s breath when all is said and done…so I’d probably suggest dishing this up DURING a date, to spread the garlicky wealth, instead of scarfing down a solitary bowl by yourself beforehand.

Garlic Chicken Risotto

1 c risotto (arborio) rice
1 32-oz. carton of chicken or vegetable stock
1 white (preferably Vidalia) onion, diced
10 cloves of garlic - 4 minced fine, 6 whole
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
5 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp butter
A splash of half-and-half or cream
white truffle oil
parsley, chopped (not strictly necessary but I felt bad without at least SOMETHING green in)
salt/pepper

  1. Pour the stock into a small pot over low heat.
  2. Put 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 2 of the butter into a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic.
  3. Sizzle away until the garlic bits start to brown and get a little crispy, and then add the diced onion. Stir for a few minutes until the onion starts to go translucent.
  4. Add the risotto rice to the onion and garlic, and stir for a few minutes over the heat to let the rice grains crack open a little.
  5. Start adding the hot stock, one ladle-ful at a time. Be sure to keep stirring, and to let all the liquid get absorbed before you add the next dose.
  6. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and oil in a separate skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper, and slide into the pan. Scatter the whole cloves in alongside.
  7. Flip the chicken over when the first side is browned and done, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir up the garlic cloves as well, which should be softening and browning as well.
  8. I usually do a final flip on the chicken and hit the first side for an extra minute or two after the second side has cooked for 5 to 10 minutes. (I also always check for dineness by cutting through the thickest part of the chicken breast. Shhh.) The garlic cloves should be an even golden brown. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes.
  9. By now, you should also be mostly through your stock-ladling adventure. Keep that up until it’s all soaked in and the risotto’s ready to go. Try a bite, and if it’s not done, you can keep going with a bit of warm water. Keep in mind, risotto’s best when it still has a little bite to it, so don’t let it turn to mush!
  10. Stir your dollop of cream into the risotto. Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces, and stir them in, as well as your seriously magical whole cloves. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.
  11. Dish up into bowls, and drizzle with a touch of white truffle oil. If you must, this is where the parsley goes as well.
  12. Eat your first bowl. And then try to avoid rooting through the risotto left on the stove, looking for more of the whole cloves to eat, all by themselves.
  13. In chicken, garlic, risotto

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