A match made on the Columbia River, Oregon-based companies Rooted Event Co. and Slopeswell Cider joined forces to create a handful of recipes focused on pairing with Northwest-made cider. The two Columbia Gorge businesses find themselves in the heart of Oregon fruit country — the Hood River Valley is home to 350 fruit growers and is the nation’s largest pear-growing region — and are making the most of the area’s bounty.
Chef and owner of Rooted, Kristen Lillvik created this one-pot, cider-forward recipe for risotto and roasted chicken, using collaborator Slopeswell’s cider as inspiration.
“Both companies are passionate about creating high-quality, delicious products that allow people to gather and create community,” the chef says. “This recipe was crafted with the intention of equipping the home cook with an easy-to-make twist on a high-end meal. Our hope is that it will inspire others to gather with friends, old and new, around their tables to create community wherever they may be.”
In this recipe built for a group of friends, the chef swaps white wine for an off-dry cider. “Using cider in this dish lends a bit more warmth on the palate and dry fruitiness to the risotto than the traditional white wine,” Lillvik says. “Apple and chicken are also a natural pairing, so it really brings the dish together.”
Pairing with cider also brings this dish together — Slopeswell’s Emperium honey-hopped cider does the trick. It “brightens the flavors and balances the richness of the chicken and risotto,” she adds. “This allows you to refresh your palate with each sip and experience the flavors of the dish again and again as you enjoy the meal.”
Creamy Cider Parmesan Risotto with Crispy Roasted Chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
5-6 (2 pounds) skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
2 teaspoon poultry seasoning, like Penzey’s Spices or McCormick
1 teaspoon kosher flake or sea salt
2 tablespoons butter
4 thinly sliced garlic cloves
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 ½ cups arborio rice
½ cup off-dry cider
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoon butter
½-1 cup warmed whole milk
Fresh thyme leaves, for garnish
For the chicken, preheat oven to 375° F. Mix the poultry seasoning and salt together in a small bowl. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, taking care to remove as much excess moisture as possible — this will help get that crispy skin. Rub the chicken with seasoning mixture, using most of it on the skin.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron or oven-safe skillet with a lid. Once the oil is up to temperature, place the chicken skin side down in the pan and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for another 3 minutes or until browned. Flip the chicken over and cook for 3 additional minutes. Carefully remove from the pan and onto a plate, then drain any remaining oil.
Return the pan to the stove, still on medium-high. Melt the butter in the pan. Add the garlic and onion, scraping the bottom of the pan well to release any bits leftover from cooking the chicken — this adds instant flavor. Keep stirring and cooking until the garlic is fragrant and onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains turn from white to translucent.
Pour in the cider and cook for about 2 minutes, until the liquid is mostly evaporated. Add the chicken stock, milk, salt and pepper, bringing to a simmer on the stove. Once simmering, stir one more time, then place the chicken on top of the rice skin-side up, adding any juices left on the plate into the rice as well.
Cover the pan with a lid (or foil) and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Carefully remove the lid and return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the rice is firm but just cooked and the chicken is crispy. Do not over bake or the rice will be mushy.
Pull the pan from the oven and remove the chicken from the rice. Stir the finishing Parmesan, butter and warmed milk into the rice, using just enough milk to get the risotto to a creamy (not soupy) consistency. Return chicken to top.
Serve immediately, topping with freshly picked thyme leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and extra Parmesan if desired.