Ok so apparently I am in love with the macro setting today and took a picture of just garnish. Who am I kidding? I am in love with the macro setting EVERY day!
So this dish came together kind of randomly. I really wanted to do something with coconut, and got it in my head that saffron and coconut would go well together and so decided to devise a risotto using both of them. But then I was thinking, hmm what would go well with that? I didn’t want a mono-flavored dish, and so wanted to find some food pairings that would compliment but not compete with the coconut-saffron risotto. So I sauteed some chicken and spinach using orange and almonds for the spinach, and orange and saffron for the chicken tenderloins. I felt that the citrus would be nice and light, and the bright fresh flavor would complement the subtle earthiness that the risotto ended up having. All in all, the combo was quite pleasant, I was pleased with myself! This recipe serves 4.
3 tbs. canola oil (I didn’t think EVOO would mix well w/ coconut flavors)
1 shallot or onion, chopped (I used an onion b/c the shallots I currently have are quite strong in flavor)
3/4 cup arborio rice
splash of sherry
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups veggie broth
1/2 tsp saffron
salt to taste
1. In a pot with a large surface area, saute the onion in oil (med-high) until translucent. Then add in the rice for about 3 min until turns golden. Meanwhile, add coconut milk and broth to a saucepan and start it heating but keep it just under a boil so it is steaming.
2. Add in a splash of sherry to the rice and while stirring, let the sherry get absorbed into the rice/evaporate.
3. Then cook like regular risotto. Drop heat down to med. Add in broth about 3/4 cup at at time while stirring to let the rice soak up the broth until the rice is plump and soft. One mistake I made was adding in the saffron too late, so while it imparted beautiful flavor, it didn’t impart beautiful color as much as I would have liked. I think this can be rectified by adding the saffron directly to the broth while it is heating up on the stove. Add in salt to taste.
Orange Saffron Chicken w/ Orange and Almond Spinach
2 tbs. canola oil
1 lb. chicken tenderloins (I use these cause they are cheap and I am poor. Feel free to use whatever here)
1/2 tsp. saffron
salt and pepper
1 lb. spinach
1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
1. Squeeze orange juice (don’t toss the orange just yet!) and saffron in a small pot, and heat for a few minutes (but don’t boil it like crazy, there isn’t much liquid).
2. Take off the burner and let cool a bit to near room temp. Then add the chicken in an airtight container and set in the fridge for a good half hour.
3. Meanwhile, saute the spinach with 2 tbs. canola oil in a skillet on med-high heat. Once wilted, add in meat of orange and toasted almond slices, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from burner and set aside.
4. Using same pan (adding more oil if needed), add chicken and orange/saffron juice to the pan at med-high heat. Saute until chicken is thoroughly cooked and browns on the outside.
To serve, plate risotto on the bottom, then top with spinach and chicken. I garnished with a couple of saffron threads, almond slices, and orange zest.
I know this sounds like an odd combination, but it really worked well together, and you could taste all the different flavors. I was really afraid the orange might be too overpowering, but it wasn’t. All and all a good dish for just kind of making up. Ideally, I’d find something besides sherry to use for the risotto. Maybe I could skip that step? Not sure.
Ha I know I use chicken tenderloins because I am a poor grad student, and you are probably wondering why in the world I could afford to cook with saffron. Actually we bought this saffron at quite a deal on our honeymoon in Cape Cod. We met someone who had just come back from an amazing trip to Iran and had bought a lot of saffron in bulk when he was over there, and so he sold it to us for fairly cheap. About 2 tsp. worth of threads cost us $5. Not bad!