Saturday, November 1, 2008

Butternut Squash Risotto

I picked up a butternut squash at the pumpkin patch when I went roaming with my brothers there a few weeks ago. I've never cooked with one of these before, but I imagined they were similar to cooking with other types of squash.

Risotto is a dish I am becoming better acquainted with these days. It takes a bit of time, attention and patience but is certainly worth the effort. The use of white wine in its preparation gives it a sweet tinge of flavor particularly delectable.

This recipe is by Ina Garten, a fantastic culinary genius on the Food Network. I omitted the saffron simply because I don't have any. I imagine it would be a wonderful addition and would give it a brighter, orange hue. Hopefully, next time....

Butternut Squash Risotto

1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs.)
2 T. olive oil
Salt and Pepper
6 c. chicken stock
6 T. butter
2 oz. pancetta, diced
1/2 c. onions (or shallots)
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice (10 oz.)
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 t. saffron threads (opt.)
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2 in. cubes. (Peeling and cutting one of these babies was quite a chore for me...any tips on how to do it efficiently?)

Roast your cubes of squash on a large cookie sheet drizzled with about 2 T. of olive oil and tossed with 1/2 t. salt and 1 t. pepper. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes. Make sure to stir a couple times through roasting process.
Mine came out of the oven oh-so-yummy looking. I couldn't help stealing a few bites. :-)

While your squash is roasting in the oven, heat your chicken stock in a small saucepan and let simmer. (Notice my chicken stock on the back burner where it belongs.) In a large pot, melt butter and saute the onions and pancetta over medium-low heat. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the onions are translucent, not browned. Then add risotto, coating with butter. Add wine and cook for about 2 minutes. If cooking with saffron, add it now and a cup of the stock.

Allow the stock to cook into the risotto, then add another cup of chicken stock. This takes about 3-5 minutes each time. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent it from sticking/burning to the bottom. Continue in this way until all the stock has been cooked into the risotto and looks like so. It should have the consistency of creamy rice.

Although there is no cream used in the making of risotto, you will notice it has a creamy texture. This is due to the slow-boiling process with incremental additions of stock which allows the starches to be released slowly. Arborio rice has a bit more starch than regular rice. And its the starch which makes it smooth and gooey. (It also does this to your spaghetti noodles when you cook them too long...) The more patient you are with adding the stock, the creamier your risotto will turn out.
After removing the risotto from the heat, add the squash and parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

I enjoyed my risotto with a slice of leftover pork chop and applesauce I had made the night before. Don't you just love the flavors of fall?


Shannon said...

Oh I am SOO going to do this for Thanksgiving... yummy!!!

Rye-Rye said...

Ummm...yes, I do love the flavors of fall! They are delicious! And the weather is finally getting bad..HOORRAAAYY! ;p

Emiline said...

Do you have any idea how much I LOVE butternut squash? I do do do.

So, yes, cutting the squash is a real chore. I will usually microwave it for a few minutes to make it tender enough to chop.

Family Fare said...

Next time we get together...remind me to bring you some saffron. It really is a nice touch.

I love doing risotto...I have experimented with lots of different types. I want to try this...thanks for the recipe!

healthily sanguine said...

Is this recipe suitable for having a priest over for dinner? Since you've tested it, does that mean I do not have to before the actual day? How long did it take in all?

Laurel said...

It took about an hour altogether. The lengthy part is the addition of the stock as it must be done in increments.
I would highly recommend it as a good dish for entertaining. It is quite delectable and fairly easy. :-)