Were it not for our cultural predilection for describing meals as a slab of protein surrounded by “sides” this dish would be called Radicchio Risotto with Chicken because the risotto is really the star of the show. The inspiration for this meal was the Treviso radicchio I picked up at the Binghamton farmers’ market. Unlike the more common lettuce-like Chioggia radicchio Treviso resembles its chicory relative, Belgian endive. The slight bitterness of the Treviso really highlights the creaminess of the rice and the bit of sourness in the picatta sauce lends a nice balance to the dish.
2 small chicken breasts, about 8 ounces total, or one larger breast halved through the width
Flour for dredging, I use white rice flour for a gluten-free product
1 slice bacon
1 Treviso radicchio
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
About 3 cups stock, chicken stock is usual but I used diluted lamb stock because it is what I had
2 cloves garlic
1 small bright-red sweet pepper, this is mostly for color
1 tbsp. drained capers
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pound the chicken to an even ¼-inch thickness. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour, shake off the excess, and set aside.
Chop the bacon coarsely and cut the radicchio crosswise into ½-inch slices. Render the bacon in a saucepan over medium heat until crisp, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the radicchio and cook, stirring, until wilted and soft, about 2 minutes. Set aside the radicchio and bacon in a bowl.
Add some olive oil to the pan to make the bacon fat up to 1 tbsp. Put the onion into the pot and sauté until softened but not colored. Add the rice to the pan and stir until well coated with the oil. Continue to stir and cook until chalky, about 3 minutes. Pour in about ¼ cup of vermouth and allow to boil down. Add ½ cup of stock and stir until absorbed. Add stock, ¼ cup at a time, stirring until absorbed after each addition. After putting in 2 cups of liquid, check the rice for doneness from time to time. Rice should offer a bit of resistance to the tooth but not be crunchy. When done stir in ½ cup parmesan and the reserved radicchio and bacon.
About 10 minutes into cooking the risotto melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a frying pan along with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. When very hot, put in the chicken and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Put the garlic and pepper into the pan and cook briefly. Add about 2 Tbsp. of vermouth and boil out the alcohol. Off heat, stir in the capers, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. butter. Return the chicken to the pan to warm.
Spoon a good quantity of risotto onto the center of a plate. Top with a chicken breast and nap with sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve.