Flavors of Italy

A week or two ago, my mother and I attended a ‘Flavors of Italy’ cooking class at Sur La Table. In the class we learned how to make lemon and saffron risotto, rosemary grilled chicken under a brick, and roasted broccolini with garlic and lemon. It was so delicious and I am super excited to try making it at home!

We started with the lemon saffron risotto. Something that I learned in the cooking class that I thought was interesting was that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world due to the fact that it takes 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of saffron spice and also the fact that it has to be harvested manually. First, bring 6 cups of low sodium chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pan. Reduce heat, add 1/8 teaspoon of saffron, and cover the broth. Next we’ll prepare for our risotto by adding 2 tablespoon of olive oil to a large sauce pan or stock pot over medium heat, then adding 2 finely chopped shallots, then stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Then we’ll add 1 and half cups of arborio or carnaroli rice into the mix and stir/sauté it constantly for about 2 more minutes until the rice is coated in oil. Add half a cup of white wine into the mix and cook for another 2 minutes until its evaporated. Using a ladle, add 1 cup of hot broth to the rice. Cook, stirring consistently until the broth is fully absorbed. Repeat this process one or two times of adding broth and continuously stirring until you reach your desired level of moisture. The risotto will be done after 20 minutes of cooking when its creamy and the grains are soft. Remove the risotto from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of finely chopped chives, and 1 cup of parmesan. Serve with lemon olive oil, more, parmesan, and salt and pepper for additional flavor!

The chicken is the star of our dish. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of minced fresh rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 3 tables spoons of extra virgin olive oil, placing the chicken in the mixture and covering to marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to two hours.

Next comes the fun part! Preheat the oven to 450 F and a grill pan over medium-high heat. After removing the chicken from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels before seasoning with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the grill pan with its skin side down. Wrap the brick in foil and use it to flatten the chicken. Cook the chicken in the grill pan until the skin is crispy, taking typically 8 minutes. Remove the brick and flip it skin-side-up, transferring the chicken to a baking sheet to go into the oven to finish cooking until its internal temperature is 165 F, typically 20 minutes. Wipe out the grill pan and reheat over medium-high heat. Brush a few lemon slices with vegetable oil and grill until marks start to show, roughly two minutes on each side. To serve, place the chicken on the platter and the lemon slices off to the side of it.

Pan roasting is a quick and easy way to cook vegetables that is sure to cause you to forget about ever steaming or boiling vegetables again! To pan roast our broccolini, begin by adding 2 tablespoons of oil to a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts shimmering, add the broccolini and season with salt and pepper generously. Sauté the broccolini until it is browned and crispy around the edges. Finally, remove the skillet from the heat and add 1 minced shallot, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, tossing to coat. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the broccolini is crisp and tender, for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, adjusting the salt/pepper/lemon juice levels as desired and top with shaved pecorino.