FOOD BYTE - Roast chicken with mushroom and truffle risotto

Hello and welcome to my new little Food Byte! This time we are going for a comfort food with a twist of glamour.

This stunningly simple but impressive recipe is perfect for relaxing weekends and cooking with friends and was inspired by my lovely friend and top chef Dhruv Baker who showed me how to make the most amazing mushroom risotto I have ever tasted. And this is saying something for someone who used to detest all things funghi. In fact, I determinedly trained myself over a period of about 10 years to love the shroom and now it is one of my favourite things to eat, which just goes to show that perseverance pays off!

Dhruv's mushroom risotto recipe goes one step further, making a velvety purée of mushrooms and truffle to fold into your finished risotto, which is pure heaven. If you are lucky enough to visit Dhruv's new pub, The Jolly Gardeners, and the mushroom risotto is on the menu, I urge you to try it! I have simplified it somewhat for the home cook and the end result, I'm happy to say, is pretty close to the original.

A roast chicken is one of the easiest ways to feed a hungry crowd. This recipe matches juicy chook, not with the usual spuds and sides but with a rich and creamy risotto that you cook while the chicken roasts.

Risotto is one of my all time favourite dishes. I love the therapeutic nature of it, standing at your hob, stirring and watching as little grains of rice flourish into rich creaminess. I would probably eat risotto every day of the week if i could. It is my lazy dish. Don't listen to those who say it is tricky or labour intensive - this simply isn't true. Yes, it is hands-on, but with all that stirring comes a great reward. As it is the stirring that releases the starch from the rice, giving the dish its characteristic creaminess. However, once your rice is underway you don't need to stir constantly as you may need to be doing other things for your dish. Just make sure you don't leave it unattended for two long and always give it a vigorous stir after each addition of stock.

The most important thing about both a roast chook and the risotto is resting time. Once they are cooked, the chicken should sit and rest on a warm plate for a good 10 minutes before carving. The risotto likewise, should sit off the heat, covered, for a few minutes to relax into itself.

Lemon roast chicken with mushroom, cavalo nero and truffle risotto

serves 4

ready in an hour

for the chicken

1 free range chicken (about 1.8kg)

25g unsalted butter

1 lemon

for the mushrooms

large knob of butter

2 garlic cloves, crushed

300g button mushrooms, finely chopped

good glug of double cream

for the risotto

good glug of olive oil

several knobs of butter

2 banana shallots, finely sliced

300g risotto rice

large glass of dry white wine

800ml - 1ltr chicken stock, kept hot in a pan

200g cavalo nero

small bunch of tarragon, chopped

30g parmesan cheese

few drops of truffle oil

Preheat the oven to 200c. fan 180c. Rub the chicken all over with the softened butter then season with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Squeeze over the juice from the lemon then pop the lemon halves in the cavity. Roast for 50 minutes - 1 hour until cooked and the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.

For the mushrooms. Melt the butter in a pan and add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds then add the mushrooms. Increase the heat, season well, and fry until golden brown and all the moisture has evaporated away. Add a good glug of double cream and then remove from the heat.

For the risotto. Melt the butter in a saucepan with a glug of olive oil. Add the shallots and fry for 10 minutes until lovely and soft. Add the rice and stir for 30 seconds in the buttery juices until the grains become opaque. Add the wine and stir until all is absorbed.

Gradually add the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring between additions until it has all been absorbed before adding the next ladle. You may not need all the stock.

Meanwhile, blanch the cavalo nero in boiling water for a few minutes then drain and refresh under cold water. Finely chop.

Remove the cooked chicken from the oven and set aside to rest whilst you finish the risotto.

Once the rice is just tender, add the mushrooms, cavalo nero, tarragon and grate in the parmesan cheese. Stir well then remove from the heat, cover, and leave to stand for a minute or two before stirring in the truffle oil. 

Serve the risotto spooned onto warmed plates and topped with slices of the cooked chicken.