Riso e Gallina

Italian Rice and Chicken


  • 1.5-2 kg (3-4 lbs) free-range or organic mature chicken
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150 mls (¼ pint) dry white wine, preferably sparkling
  • 500 g (1 lb) risotto rice
  • 4 free-range egg yolks
  • 250 mls (scant ½ pint) whipping or double cream
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg


Remove any excess fat from the bird’s cavity, and put the bird in a large stockpot, together with aromatics such as a slice or two of fresh ginger, a bay leaf or two, a sliver of lemon zest, a celery stalk. Cover with water, and bring slowly to the boil. Turn down the heat to the merest simmer, and cook until the chicken is tender, about 50 to 60 minutes, somewhat longer if you are using a boiling fowl.

Meanwhile, gently fry the celery, shallot and garlic in the butter or oil until soft. Stir in the wine, and cook until evaporated. Stir in the rice, and when it is well coated, add a ladleful of boiling chicken stock, poured from the chicken pot into a smaller saucepan. When it has been absorbed, add another ladleful, continuing in this way until the rice is almost cooked.

Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and cream, and cook gently over a low heat until thickened, but take care not to curdle it. Take the chicken out of the pot, and take off the meat in large slivers. Finish cooking the rice, and season it; it should be quite tender but not sloppy. Remove it from the heat. Stir in half the cream sauce, and heap the rice into a hot bowl, serving platter or tureen. Arrange the pieces of chicken around the edges, and trickle the rest of the sauce over the rice. A grating of white truffles turns this into a feast.