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Ideas for a meaty main to pair with smoked cheese risotto?

I'm cooking a dinner for 4 adults this weekend, and will be making a saucy barley risotto with smoked cheddar, beans, and spinach. It's hearty, so normally I'd just serve that as the main, but this time I'm looking for a meat dish to go with it because we'll all be starving after an active day.

Ideally this is something that will prep & cook relatively quickly,1 hr tops, so big roasts, long braises, etc. are out. I'll be in a kitchen in a rented cottage, and while it is "equipped", I don't know that they'll have anything beyond the basics, so I can't count on a cast iron pan, slow cooker, pressure cooker, etc. being available.

For presentation reasons, I'm leaning toward the meat being something that goes aside / on top of the risotto, rather than being mixed in. But I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

Any recipe ideas? Thank you in advance!

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  1. That sounds delicious - I'd go with some sort of sausage on top. A nice grilled garlicky link of something would be terrific.

    1 Reply
    1. re: biondanonima

      i was also thinking pork. you could rub pork chops with garlic and rosemary in the morning and then pan-fry or oven bake the chops for dinner.

    2. Maybe some meat or chicken bits marinated and skewared, the broiled or grilled.

      1. +3 on the pork idea. Smoked sausages, kielbasa, something with a little heft & spice to go with the strong flavors of the risotto.

        Also what about a pork tenderloin? Pan roasted and glazed with some mustard and balsamic to give it some color and flavor on the outside. Simple and tasty.

        1. Some people might think that sausage would diminish a meal like that, but I think it would complement it very nicely. Being that you're in a cottage, you might have access to venison sausage, boar sausage, or otherwise.

          1. I feel like braised short ribs would be a nice accompaniment. Sort of a take on The Grilled Cheese Truck's short rib mac and cheese grilled cheese. HEAVY but amazing!

            1. Sausage sounds perfect... easy, tasty, and any leftovers can be used in a breakfast hash or something. Thank you!! Others are kindly doing the shopping for me, so I'll ask them to grab some, or a tenderloin/chops if sausages can't be had for whatever reason.

              I'd love to do short ribs (sound like heaven after a cold day!), but I don't think I can get them done in an hour, and I can't bring anything pre-made (flight restrictions, etc.) Fantastic idea for another time though! :)

              1. I see you decided, but thought I would throw my .02 out there anyway. Personally, I find sausage to be heavy and pairing it with a rich risotto would put me in a food coma (which may be welcomed on a long day). I would make red wine braised chicken thighs (bone-in would be done ~30, boneless ~20 with prep time included). Quick, tasty, cheap, and more wine to drink is always a plus in my book.

                6 Replies
                1. re: LP808

                  Thank you, LP808 -- the risotto is one of my favourites to make, so I'm sure this kind of occasion will come up again and I'm grateful for further suggestions. Do you happen to have a recipe you like for the braised thighs? I always like new and interesting things to do with chicken!

                  1. re: CuriousCat

                    I usually make it similar to chicken Marsala. I have made this recipe from epicurious but omitted the sun-dried tomatoes (husband not a fan) made with Cabernet http://epicurious.com/recipes/food/vi...
                    And more recently, made Michael Symon's version + 3-4 cloves of garlic and used balsamic vinegar since I'm a newly nursing mama

                    Chicken piccata is also super fast and tasty. I've been making that forever, so I don't measure. And it's probably not a true piccata (I'm American-born South African, not Italian) after I quick fry the thin chicken breasts (I don't pound them out anymore since I discovered it's way easier to slice the breasts in half...) but after I pull out the chicken, I add an anchovy or 2, a clove of garlic, and half an onion and saute for a few mins. Deglaze with juice of a lemon and chicken broth (half a cup?) and add a spoonful of rinsed capers and sprinkle in some dried parsley. Sometimes I finish with butter.

                    Good luck with your upcoming dinner :)

                    1. re: LP808

                      Thank you, those recipes sound yummy. Good to know that the Epicurious recipe is still tasty without the sun-dried tomatoes, as I often cook for a tomato-hater as well. :)

                    2. re: CuriousCat

                      Yeah, I go for the chicken thighs w/red wine reduction. Pretend you're making a coco vin as far as ingredients. Try to get fresh genuine local farm raised thighs though. Firmer, better tasting.
                      Serve as a 'side' dish.

                      1. re: CuriousCat

                        Would you mind please sharing your recipe for rosotto.....thanks.

                        1. re: angelsmom

                          The barley risotto is adapted from this Smitten Kitchen recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/0...

                          I use spinach just because it's what I tend to have on hand, but I'm sure escarole or kale would be fantastic as well. I really love swapping smoked cheddar cheese for the parmesan, and I up the amount to maybe 2/3 of a cup. I use red kidney beans, don't usually bother with thyme, and eyeball the greens. As the author states, it's a very forgiving recipe. It's been a hit many many times, for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

                    3. Chicken cutlets. You can slice the chicken breasts and pound them in advance and stick them in the fridge. Then take them out and coat them in flour/egg/bread crumbs (panko) and lightly fry. Serve with lemon wedges.

                      Add a green salad and you're golden. (Rolls, if you're really hungry)

                      1. How's your meatloaf skills? I think a flavorful meatloaf atop your delicious sounding risotto would be wonderful.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: HillJ

                          I've only made meatloaf once, actually, it never occurs to me! (We were not a meatloaf eating household growing up.) Do you have a recipe you like? I think that would make a very cozy, homey pairing indeed!

                        2. I was also thinking pork. Maybe some pork tenderloin, as it meets your time requests.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: CanadaGirl

                            Great minds think alike -- pork seems to be a winner here! :)