Pan Sautéed Chicken With Mushroom Farro Risotto is a healthy Mediterranean alternative to the classic American chicken and rice casserole that is often made with canned mushroom soup.
Farro, an ancient form of wheat, is used in this recipe. Also known as emmer, it often replaces the Italian Arborio or Carnaroli rice normally used to prepare risotto and is then called farrotto in Italy. Unlike rice, farro doesn’t get mushy and retains a slightly chewy texture similar to wheat berries, barley or al dente pasta. Farro doesn’t release starch while it is cooking in stock so it doesn’t need to be constantly stirred like you do when preparing risotto. Fresh assorted mushrooms and Parmesan cheese add additional flavor to the farrotto that I think you will love as a side to the sautéed chicken that’s marinated with fresh herbs, garlic and green pepperoncini.
Pan Sautéed Chicken With Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto)
Serves 2 generously, adjust the recipe accordingly.
Mushroom Farro Risotto (Farrotto)
- 1 1/2 c. chicken stock (I used unsalted)
- 1/2 c. mushroom broth (made by soaking several pieces of dried porcini mushroom in boiling water, then strained through a coffee filter) or you can use chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped fine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 4 oz. pkg. of assorted mushrooms (I used baby Bellas, shiitake and oyster) sliced into bitesize pieces
- 1/2 c. semi-pearled or pearled farro (I used Campanini which is semi-pearled)
- 1/4 c. white wine
- 1/4 c. grated Parmesan or Locatelli Romano cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Combine chicken stock and mushroom broth, a total of two cups, in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. (You can use all chicken stock, if you wish.)
Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat until just bubbling, add the sliced mushrooms and stir to coat. Sauté until the mushrooms have released their moisture and turned golden brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside.
In the same sauté pan, heat the olive oil, add the onion and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the farro, stirring until it is lightly toasted. Add the wine and cook about a minute.
Pour in the stock, add the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is nearly absorbed and the farro is tender (it will be slightly chewy) and creamy. It should take about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the farro you use. Add the reserved mushrooms, heat through. Take off the heat and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the Parmesan cheese then taste for additional seasoning, if needed. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes for the flavors to meld before serving.
Tip: Whole grain farro can take about 30 to 45 minutes to cook, the semi-pearled variety I used took 30. If you plan ahead, you can pre-soak the farro overnight and it will only take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook. Cracking whole grain farro in a blender before cooking also helps it cook faster.
Herb Marinated Pan Sautéed Chicken
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 3 – 4 pepperoncini (Italian or Greek mild pickled green peppers) stemmed, seeded and cut into small pieces
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil plus more for sautéing
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 – 6 oz. each) pounded to an even thickness
- salt and pepper to taste
Make a marinade by combining the rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepperoncini and 2 Tbsp. oil in a shallow dish and stir well. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in the marinade, turn to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, turning once and making sure both sides are covered with the herb mixture.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat. Place the chicken breasts smooth side down in the skillet and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until brown. (If you have a cooking weight, it will help with even browning). Turn the chicken breasts and cook until done and they reach an internal temperature of 162 degrees. Let rest for several minutes before serving.
To serve this meal, spoon the farro risotto onto each plate and then top with one of the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with additional grated cheese, if desired.
The farro risotto has a nutty flavor and chewy texture that my husband and I throughly enjoyed. Hearty and full of flavor, farro is a healthier and more nutritious alternative to Arborio rice and is rich in fiber and high in vitamins, minerals and protein yet low in gluten. As you can see from the photo, this is a brown looking meal. Since we eat with our eyes as well, you might want to add some color to the plate. I added some cherry tomatoes to the sauté pan right before the chicken was finished cooking to serve with the meal. Green beans or some wilted spinach would make another nice addition to the plate.