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Friday, October 26, 2012

Butternut Squash Risotto

Bringing this out of the archives with some new notes & step by step images... Original post 10/07

 Now this is something worth learning.  Risotto.  A creamy impressive dish that can be made from pantry staples in less than 40 minutes and is restaurant worthy.  Arborio rice, onion, chicken stock, parmesan cheese.  That's  pretty much it.  Well, and some butter, of course.  
And did I mention pretty easy?  Beginner friendly recipe and impressive.  If you have the time, it's perfect to do while doing other things like shopping online, talking on the phone.. doing a puzzle with a 3 year old.  It needs a watchful eye, but you don't need to stand over it, especially once you have the pace/heat set.  Cooked slowly with a lot of stirring.. the rice turns creamy and into one of the best comfort foods that will become a favorite.  Mac & Cheese has nothing on this.  And I love mac & cheese.  
Risotto makes a lovely side or as I like it.. on it's own as a main course.  Serve with a toasted, crusty bread, a side salad and lovely glass of wine.. of course.  This recipe will make 6 dinner portions. 
This risotto recipe is with butternut squash.. because it's fall and it's delicious.  duh.   But you can add whatever you have on hand.  The squash gets stirred in at the last moment.. so, just omit it and add what you like.  Saute´d mushrooms..  Peas with mint.. Shrimp & asparagus with some lemon zest... the options are endless.  But start with this recipe and learn the technique and go from there.. 

Butternut Squash Risotto 

    •    2 c. butternut squash, steamed & mashed
    •    6 c. chicken stock (or you can use vegetable broth)

    •    2 T. olive oil + 1 T. butter
    •    1 large onion, chopped
    •    2 c. Arborio rice
    •    1 t. fresh rosemary, minced fine
    •    1 T. fresh thyme (leaves removed from stems)
    •    1/2 c. dry white wine
    •    3 T. butter
    •    1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
    •    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a saucepan set up with a steamer compartment, steam butternut squash.  (simply cut up squash in large chunks, peel with peeler or steam with skin on, done when tender.  Cool, remove skin and mash.  Set aside.)
In another saucepan, bring stock just to a simmer and maintain over low heat to keep hot.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter. Add the onions and saute till translucent (do not brown).  Add rice and stir until the grains are well coated with the oil and are nearly translucent with a white dot in the center, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the herbs.  Add the wine and stir about a minute until alcohol burns off.

Add the hot stock, one ladle at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding more.  If it cooks too quickly and almost crusting on the bottom.. turn it down (!!!) you want it to slowly absorb, stirring often.. to get to the perfect creamy texture.

When the rice is tender to the bite but slightly firm in the center and looks creamy, after about 30 minutes, stir in the remaining 3 Tbs. butter, the cheese, salt and pepper. Add the butternut squash. Taste for seasoning. Let stand for 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 (dinner portion)

Peeling butternut squash is easiest with a sharp peeler.
If you are having trouble, leave the skin on and remove after steaming.

 Remove seeds & membrane...  cut into large chunks (about 1.5")

 Steam til fork tender.  Mash roughly with a fork. (remove skins, if you steamed with them on)

Saute onions til translucent. Don't brown.

 Arborio rice & fresh herbs work best here.
 Adding herbs & stock is hot and ready with a ladle.
 Once rice is translucent with a white dot at center, add the wine and cook for a minute.
The alcohol will burn off but the wine will impart a depth of flavor & contrast.
Now begin adding the broth, one ladle full at a time.
Don't rush it. If your rice is browning or sticking at bottom.. you have the heat to high.
Low & slow.. take your time.  This is the comfort part of cooking.

You can see here the rice is still got a way to go.  This is how it should look right after a ladle of broth is added. Rice is swimming in the broth and will slowly absorb it.

 Here it is about 1/2 way there.  You can see it is plumping & absorbing the broth.

 About 3/4 of the way... keep going.  Don't be tempted to rush it at this point.
 Final ladle in.  How do you know?  Taste it.  The rice should have a slight bite, we are not looking for mush here.. firm but creamy and no hard center.  Sometimes the rice needs another ladle or more of stock and sometimes you might have some left over.  You will only know by tasting!!

Once the rice is al dente, fold in the 3 T. of butter.  Add the parmesan cheese and fold in the squash (or other ingredients) and S+P to taste.

Perfection.  See how you can see the rice is still whole, not mush, bits of onion and squash. Identifiable.  This is what we are aiming for.  The dish is beyond creamy.  Comfort food at it's best right here.


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