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Buttermilk Rice Faux-sotto

I've been a Chopped fanatic for years now. I have hosted some Chopped-themed parties (pitting couples against each other to create culinary delights out of insane basket items), and often just challenge myself to take random products and see what I can make of it. That was my Chopped Challenge last night - when I had nothing planned, not a lot of time, and a hungry partner on standby. So, I grabbed Jasmine rice, buttermilk, raw onions, garlic, mint, Parm/Reggiano, Trader Joe's breaded chicken breasts (frozen), a jar of red pesto sauce, and some mozzarella, and threw this tasty little dish together. I have to admit - and yes, I know true risotto is a process, and sorry for you risotto purists out there - but it was like a cheesy and creamy cheesy oniony risotto. Give it a try.

Cook the Rice: Easy - in a large saucepan (with a lid), I took a cup each of uncooked rice, buttermilk, and water, and a pinch of salt, and brought to boil a boil. I then covered, turned to medium-low, and let simmer for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, I sauteed diced onion and garlic, until onion browned and soft, and set aside. After the 15 minutes, I stirred in the onion/garlic, along with about 2/3 cup of Parmagiano/Reggiano mix, and stirred well.

For the Chicken: While the rice is cooking, I cooked the breaded chicken per the instructions (about 15 minutes at like 350). Then I put a spoonful of pesto sauce on each, along with a little scattering of mozzarella, and returned to oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese had melted.

Put it Together: Served in a bowl, put a serving full of the rice, and sprinkle some chopped mint on top. Place the chicken on top of that, and I also threw in a bit of chopped green olives.

It was devoured. Chopped Champion.

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