Friday, February 5, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves about 4 as a main course and 8 as a side


1 medium-sized butternut squash
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbl + 2 Tbl butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli short-grained rice
6-7 cups chicken stock *
1/2 cup dry white wine
pinch nutmeg
1 Tbl chopped sage
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, drizzle insides with the olive oil and sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Place cut side-down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with foil, and roast until utterly tender, about 45 minutes or so, completely depending on the size of your squash. When cool enough to handle, scoop the tender flesh into a mixing bowl and discard the skins. With a rubber spatula, perform a combination whip/mash/beat motion until the squash is smooth and velvety. Reserve until needed. (This step can be done the day ahead.)

Over high heat, bring the chicken stock to a boil, then immediately lower heat to low, just in order to keep it warm.

Melt 2 Tbl butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and season with a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add the rice and cook, constantly stirring, for 2-3 more minutes. Stir in about 1-2 cups of stock, so that the rice is just covered. Simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, until the stock is nearly all absorbed. Continue adding more stock, a cup or two at a time, until the rice is creamy and slightly firm, but no longer hard in the center. This usually takes about 20 minutes, and you may not need to use all the stock. Add the wine, nutmeg and sage and simmer a minute or so more until the wine is absorbed.  Add the roasted squash and fold in completely.  Cook for about two more minutes to heat through, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parmesan cheese and 2 Tbl butter. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

* I can’t say enough how important it is to use a good chicken stock here. The only way you’re going to achieve a perfect ten is if you use home-made. But if you absolutely must use pre-made, go with one of those boxes, especially this one. But by no means use the canned stuff. Please don’t.




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