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Butternut Squash Risotto

April 18, 2012

If you’ve been intimidated by making risotto in the past, don’t be! It doesn’t actually require fussy techniques; if you can stand in front of a stove and stir a pot, you can easily cook risotto. Make some as part of a weekend dinner party to share with friends – there will be no leftovers though! I discovered this squash risotto recipe in Gourmet Today in the fall of 2010 when we were overrun with butternuts in our CSA box, and I can’t believe I haven’t posted it before now as I’ve made it several times since then! It’s one of our favorites – perfectly al dente yet creamy rice, savory flavors of chicken stock and chives, balanced out by a subtle sweetness from the roasted squash.

Risotto gets its creamy texture from being cooked on the stovetop over low heat; small amounts of broth are added and the rice is stirred constantly until each addition of broth gets absorbed.  Because of the cooking method and the time required to roast the squash, this isn’t a quick whip-it-up-after-work weeknight side dish. But since the squash is added at the end, you can cut down on time a little bit: start the squash roasting early and prep the rest of your ingredients, starting the stock simmering and cooking the onions and rice. Make sure you use only Carnaroli or Arborio rice, since other types of rice will not achieve the right texture. I used my dutch oven to make the risotto, but any heavy pot or large saucepan with even heat conduction will work.

Enjoy!

Butternut squash risotto

Serves 4 as a first course, 6 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 1  (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4  cups low sodium chicken broth plus 1 1/2  cups water
  • 4  tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1  small onion, chopped
  • 1  tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2  cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/2  cup dry white wine
  • 1/2  cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for serving
  • 3  tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

Directions

  1. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.
  2. Toss squash with oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet and spread out in one layer. Roast, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven.
  3. While squash is roasting, bring chicken broth and water to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan. Reduce heat and keep at a bare simmer.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart wide heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring, until absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook, stirring constantly and keeping it at a strong simmer, until absorbed. Continue cooking and adding stock about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, 18 to 23 minutes (there will be broth left over).
  6. Stir in roasted squash, cheese, chives, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. If desired, thin risotto with some of the remaining broth. Serve immediately, with additional grated cheese.

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