I spent Sunday afternoon cooking some Monterey Chicken and Midsummer Risotto for our lunches this week. I’ve never made risotto from scratch before, and was hoping it wouldn’t be too difficult. I thought it might be difficult because on the occasions I’ve watched Hell’s Kitchen, Chef Ramsey is always spitting it out and saying how vile it is. It was actually surprisingly easy, although it required a lot of attention.
DSH really liked the risotto, and that’s a good compliment because he used to work at a restaurant at Ragged Point along Highway 1 just north of Hearst Castle many years ago.
I found the recipe for the risotto in a cookbook I bought at a thrift store for $2.99:
The Monterey Chicken recipe is one that a friend and I created over 20 years ago after enjoying a similar dish with the same name at a long-gone restaurant called Skinny Haven.
There are no measurements for the Monterey Chicken recipe, you just use your best judgment and follow your preferences 🙂
Here are the recipes:
2 cups tomato juice (you can also substitute 1/2 cup of dry white wine for 1/2 cup of the tomato juice)
3 cups water or vegetable stock (you can also use chicken stock)
1 vegetable bouillon cube
3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (I found this at a local specialty Italian store)
2 cups diced zucchini (I used 4)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped tomatoes (Before adding them to the risotto, I sautéed them with olive oil and seasonings)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (we have dark opal basil growing in our garden, so I used that)
ground black pepper to taste
Combine the tomato juice, water or stock, and bouillon cube in a pot and bring to a simmer. Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a blender, add 1 1/2 cups of the corn, and purée until smooth. Stir the puréed corn into the simmering broth. Set aside the remaining corn kernels.
In a separate, heavy saucepan (I used a large, heavy frying pan), preferably nonstick (try not to use nonstick, it’s bad for your health and the health of any birds you may have – I used a stainless steel pan and it worked quite well), combine the onions and the oil and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened. Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to avoid breaking the grains, until the rice is coated with oil.
Ladle about a cup of the broth into the rice and stir constantly for several minutes, until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the zucchini and another cup of broth. Continue to stir frequently, adding a cup of broth every few minutes for the next 15 minutes, until all of the broth has been added and the rice is tender but firm (this step actually took about 30-45 minutes for me).
Add the reserved corn, the salt, tomatoes, basil and pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or so and serve immediately.
Boneless, skinless chicken breast
Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Grated parmesan/romano cheese
Summer squash of your choice, sliced into rounds (I used zucchini and yellow patty pan squash from the store, and then some summer squash from our garden)
Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
Yellow onion, chopped
Fresh or refrigerated crushed garlic
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Butter and olive oil
Rinse and dry the chicken breasts, and trim any fat that might still be attached. You can either bake the breasts whole or cut into bite-sized chunks. Since I was making this for work lunches, I cut the chicken into chunks to make eating it easier.
Blend some of the grated parmesan/romano cheese with the Italian seasoned bread crumbs and then coat the chicken well with the mixture.
Place the coated chicken into a casserole dish which has been coated with olive oil. If the chicken is in chunks, layer evenly.
Bake the chicken at 350° for approximately 45 minutes, or until almost done.
While the chicken is baking, heat a frying pan and add some butter and olive oil. Once the butter has melted, add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
Add the sliced summer squash, mushrooms and garlic and sauté until near desired doneness, then add italian seasoning. You can also use fresh herbs such as oregano, basil and rosemary. This dish is all about what you prefer 🙂
Check the chicken to be sure it’s done. It should be lightly browned on top.
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and top it with the squash mixture, being sure to not add any of the liquid that may be in the pan with the zucchini. You don’t want soggy breaded chicken, that’s nasty!
Sprinkle the shredded Monterey Jack cheese evenly over the top of the squash mixture,
then return to oven until the cheese has melted.
Here’s the meal for lunch this week: