Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Butternut Squash Risotto

The Slow Food folks would be proud of me for taking the time to make this dish!
While it seems crazy to spend so much time peeling and chopping, then stirring the risotto as I wait for the liquid to absorb, somehow I think it pays homage the lovely butternut squash which in essence is honoring the Lord for His amazing provision.

This recipe is pretty detailed, but it does help to ensure good results.

Source:  Cook's Illustrated magazine, October 2005

2 T. olive oil
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lbs.), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3 1/2 c.)
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. ground black pepper
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. water
4 T. unsalted butter
2 small onions, chopped very fine (about 1 1/2 c.)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (2 t.)
2 c. Arborio rice
1 1/2 c. dry white wine (I substituted 3/4 c. water + 3 T. lemon juice)
1 1/2 oz. finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 c.)
2 T. minced fresh sage leaves
1/4 t. grated nutmeg

Heat oil in 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.  Add squash in even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, 4-5 minutes; stir in 1/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer.  Transfer squash to bowl and set aside.

Return skillet to medium heat; add reserved squash fibers and seeds and any leftover diced squash.  Cook, stirring frequently to break up fibers, until lightly browned, about 4 min.  Transfer to large saucepan and add chicken broth and water; cover saucepan and bring mixture to simmer over high heat, then reduce  heat to medium-low to maintain bare simmer.

Melt 3 T. butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add onions, garlic, remaining 1/2 t. salt and remaining 1/2 t. pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4-5 min.  Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 min.  Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 4-5 min.

Meanwhile, strain hot broth through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth hot.

When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 c. hot broth and half of reserved squash to rice.  Simmer, stirring every 3-4 min., until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 min.

Stir in about 1/2 c. hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 min; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente.  Off heat, stir in remaining 1 T. butter, Parmesan, sage, and nutmeg; gently fold in remaining cooked squash.  If desired, add up to 1/4 c. additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 main course or 6 first course servings

Butternut Squash Risotto with Spinach and Toasted Pine Nuts

Toast 1/4 c. pine nuts in small, dry skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 5 min; set aside.

Follow recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto; in step 2, after transferring sauteed squash seeds and fibers to saucepan, add 1 t. olive oil to empty skillet and swirl to coat.  Add 4 oz. baby spinach and cook, covered, over medium heat, until leaves begin to wilt, about 2 min.  Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until fully wilted, about 30 seconds.  Transfer spinach to mesh strainer; set aside.  Proceed with recipe as directed.

Drain excess liquid from spinach and stir into risotto along with remaining squash in step 6.  Top individual servings of risotto with toasted pine nuts.

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