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May 3, 2011 10:57 AM

Lidia's Riso alla Pitocca (beggar's chicken and rice)

Just made this simple chicken and rice dish the other day and wanted to share it as a super simple, but delicious one-pot dinner. You start with a basic carrot/celery/onion/garlic mix, toss in some diced chicken and bay leaves, deglaze with wine, and toss in 2 cups of arborio rice and 5 cups of chicken or turkey broth. Finish with parmigiano reggiano and parsley. Total comfort food.

What's lovely about it is that you get a very risotto-like result without any fuss whatsoever.

A couple of tweaks I would make to the recipe:

- Use far less salt. I used the full 3 teaspoons of kosher salt her recipe calls for and found it too salty. My homemade stock was minimally salted, but I still found the end result too salty.

- Cooking time after adding the rice was more like 20 - 25 minutes. At 14 minutes, the rice was still quite undercooked and the whole thing was very soupy. A quick stir and another 5 minutes and it was almost there. Another couple of minutes was perfect.

- I left out the finishing butter step. My stock happened to have quite a bit of fat in it (because I boiled the trimmings from the chicken thighs in the stock for my dog!) and that was more than enough fat to give the rice a rich mouthfeel.

To cut the saltiness (which was much less pronounced on day 2), I chopped up a head of broccoli, quickly steamed it and stirred it into the rice. On day 3 (today!), I made some awesome arancini with the leftovers. They made a fantastic lunch. :)

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  1. This sounds great, quite quick, fairly low budget and very comforting. I bet you could add some asparagus tips or fresh peas towards the end. I enjoy reading Lidia's blog. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    1 Reply
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Yes, peas or asparagus would be great added at the end (the broccoli worked great in it). I should mention that it's also a very pretty dish, with the orange and green flecks from the carrots and the parsley.

    2. what type of chicken did you use? uncooked, bone in?

      1 Reply
      1. re: fara

        Raw, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which I trimmed and cut into small cubes.

      2. I've had this on my mind since you've posted it so I'm making it today. It might be heresy but I'm changing it somewhat, poaching the chicken on the bones right now, will remove the meat and add the bones back in to make stock with it. I'll use the stock for the rice. Thanks for sharing!

        6 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          So how did it turn out? And I'm guessing Lidia wouldn't care or call it heresy, she doesn't strike me as quite as, um, pedantic as say, Marcella Hazan. :)

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Marcella pedantic!? Now THAT'S heresy! :-)

            1. re: TorontoJo

              It was so good--thanks for recommending it. I love risotto but don't usually have the time/energy/patience on a busy week night to make it so this was perfect. We added peas in the end and the poached chicken worked fine. We did the butter at the end, but not as much cheese. The problem is we doubled the recipe so have a lot left over. I'll see if it's like risotto reheated, in which case I'll be making arancini.

              1. re: chowser

                Oh, I should have mentioned that the recipe is HUGE! I made a single recipe for just the 2 of us, and had leftovers for days. It wasn't too bad reheated, but it was WAY better made into arancini. I'm so glad it worked out for you. I love the simplicity.

                I'm also a huge fan of her spicy pork chops. Another simple recipe where the end result seems way more than the sum of its parts:


                The resulting sauce is delicious and I can have just the sauce over rice and call it a meal. I like the sauce so much that even though I usually make only 2 or 3 pork chops at a time, I make the full quantity of sauce.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  That sounds great, too. Thanks. I have one of Lidia's cookbooks and have to pull it out more often. Her recipes always come out well.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    This sounds great especially when the spring chickens are ready to eat. Thanks for posting. Love Lidia.

            2. Yes! Thank you for posting! This WAS delicious. I have one VERY minor quibble with the recipe--had a teensy bit of trouble caramelizing the chicken. Bottom of my pot was covered with the "pestata". Thinking of browning the chicken separately, before cooking the pestata. In any case, an absolute keeper of a recipe. Thanks again!

              3 Replies
              1. re: CathyR

                I had the same issue with the chicken not being able to brown -- I thought I miss judged the amount of carrots/celery I used. I just kept stirring and let the chicken cook. I do think I put in too much veggies, but it was so good and my kids loved it too. I am planning on making variations of this with just veggies or with seafood.

                1. re: Disneyfreak

                  I actually had the same issue, but the end result was so good that I didn't think about it. I think I might take chowser's route in the future and just stir in cooked chicken. I assume the goal was to add another layer of flavor with the browned chicken and the fond, but in my opinion a good stock, the butter and the cheese provides sufficient depth of flavor.

                  The recipe seems very forgiving and a good base for variations and experimentation.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I thought the same thing about the fond but had bone in thighs so decided to make stock with that. And, I agree, the homemade stock made a huge difference in the mouthfeel/taste. Not to second guess Lidia but from your experiences, I might cook the chicken first, develop the fond, remove, sautee the vegetables and then add the chicken back. That's how I do most braises/stews. This recipe definitely is a good base to jump off on different dishes. Thanks for posting it!

              2. Made this last night and it was delicious. My comments are pretty much the same as everyone else - also could not get the chicken to brown. Finally said the heck with it and added the wine. Did not make a bit of difference to the final outcome of the dish. And yes - makes a TON! Next time I will halve the recipe and only use one cup of arborio. My 2 year old loved it!

                1 Reply
                1. re: hto44

                  Oh, hey, hanks for the report back -- it's a good reminder that I need to make this again soon! Some nice local summer veggies will for sure make their way into the dish.