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Monday, October 4, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

 Squash is my absolute favorite fruit (vegetable in today's culinary terms) for the fall season.  I eagerly await the harvest of these beauties just so I can make any recipe where it can be used.  There is something to be said about an ingredient that is hearty, savory and sweet all at the same time.  Richness is amplified as butternut squash is slow roasted also making it sweeter and deeper in color.
Risotto is a cold weather favorite amongst many people and squash is a perfect match for such a dish.  Creamy, heart warming rice slow cooked with sweet, earthy squash make a perfectly balanced dish and is a true classic northern Italian dish enjoyed around the world.
Contrary to many people's beliefs, risotto does not need the addition of heavy creams and copious amounts of cheese to achieve the smooth creamy texture.  The slow cooking process of the rice releases the starches in the grains to create the wonderful dish giving you the  addition of whole grains in your diet without adding extra saturated fats.
Most risotto recipes call for using Arborio rice but I prefer Carnaroli rice.  I find that carnaroli is very starchy like arborio but it stays more firm when cooked, retaining a better texture.  A properly cooked risotto should be creamy and smooth yet still retain a loose texture with every grain defined.  In other words, risotto should not be a large pile of congealed gloopy starch and it is easier to achieve with carnaroli rice. 
Butternut can be replaced with regular pumpkin (called winter squash in many countries) for a slightly less sweet taste.

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash ( approx. 2 lbs)
2 cups carnaroli rice
6-7 cups chicken stock ( use vegetable stock for lower fat content)
1 cup white wine
1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
Parmigiano reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Cut squash in half, remove seeds and place flesh down on a baking tray.  Roast in a 400*f oven for 45 minutes or until very soft and caramelized. Remove from oven, peel and set aside.
Bring stock to a simmer in a pot on stove top.
In another large pot heat 4 tbsp. olive oil and saute onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes on medium heat (do not burn garlic!)
Now add the rice and stir constantly for approximately 2 minutes making sure to coat rice evenly with oil .
Rice should be warm throughout but not burning.
Add squash to pot and stir until well blended with rice.
Add wine and stir until  absorbed by rice.( approx 2-3 minutes)
Begin adding 1 ladle at a time of stock and stirring occasionally until rice absorbs it, and repeat this process until stock is used.
A good simmer is all you need, boiling will cause stock to evaporate too quickly.
This process should take 25-30 minutes.
At this point the risotto should be "al dente" (subtley firm) to the bite but very creamy,
Plate risotto and add parmigiano shavings , serve immediately.

The sweetness of the squash and the nice subtle bite to the rice has this very creamy texture and is extremely flavorful and hearty.

5 comments:

whozyerdanny said...

I prefer to add the squash at the beginning of the cooking process to infuse greater flavor and color to the rice.

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

Fantastic! I have a ton of squash from the garden this year and not too many ideas on what to do with them. Risotto is officially on the menu :)

Maria said...

This sounds amazing. I've only ever thought to roast squash, which is pretty boring. I have to try this.

Anonymous said...

Looks like another great recipe from you, Danny..
Thanks.. Cher

Karen said...

I love butternut squash and made a risotto last year with it. It was like eating candy!

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