You read it right. This risotto is so hot, you might want to “dumb-down” the recipe a little and go light on the peppers. It’s not for the faint of heart. And when you are making this menu, don’t think about rubbing an eye (or anything else) because you could be in pain for hours. That said, get out your charcoal smoker and let’s get cooking!
1 (or more) roasting chickens (you can always save extra chicken for later)
kitchen string (to put your chicken in bondage)
Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 quarts Original Low-Sodium V8
4 heaping TB minced garlic
1-4 Habanero peppers, split in half
2 TB butter, 1 TB olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Cherry wood chips
1 bag natural hardwood charcoal
Rinse chicken(s) and remove giblets for another use
Soak two cups of Cherry wood chips in water
Put Montreal seasoning all over the inside and outside of the chicken(s)
Truss the chickens, or if that’s too cumbersome, just tie the legs together for more even cooking
Put the V-8, garlic and peppers in a large pan. Coat the chicken(s) all over with the marinade. Refrigerate, turning every half hour or so for two hours, or at least a good hour while you start the charcoal.
Start the charcoal in a full charcoal chimney. Take out the chicken(s) from the fridge so the chill comes off of them.
When the charcoal is turning white, carefully put the charcoal in the bottom pan of the smoker. Put one cup drained wood chips on top. Fill the other pan with the marinade under the grill for the chicken(s). Place the chicken(s) breast side down on the grill on top. Close smoker. When the heat falls below the “ideal” temperature gauge on your smoker, prepare a second set of coals and add them to the smoker. Add the rest of the drained wood chips on top of the charcoal. Flip the chicken(s) over. When the heat starts to wear off, check the temperature of the chicken(s) in the thickest part of the thigh. It should read at least 170 degrees F. (You’ll get an extra ten degrees of carryover cooking, when they are removed and resting.) Cover loosely with foil while you make the risotto.
Carefully ladle 5-6 cups of marinade (not the peppers) from the smoker into a large, heat-safe bowl. Be careful, as it will be hot. In a large pan on the stove, add 1 TB butter and 1 TB olive oil over medium high heat. When heated up, add the risotto and lightly toast for about a minute. Begin adding a little marinade at a time. It will bubble. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon. As the marinade is absorbed, ladle in more and stir until it is all absorbed. Don’t walk away for the 18 minutes it takes for this pot o’ love! When the marinade is used up, the risotto should be al dente. If it’s not, add a little wine, stock or water until it’s the right consistency. It should be al dente and slightly loose, but not too liquid and not too stiff. When done, take off the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and the butter, stirring to combine. Serve immediately with the chicken.
Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday morning at 6 on AM1010 CBS and other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.