Butternut Squash Risotto
For some reason, I’ve always been intimidated to make risotto. It seemed like a complicated process that was for expert chefs. Earlier this year, one of the resolutions I made with myself was to be more adventurous with food and cooking. So after watching a few people make the dish, I decided to give it a try. I will admit, I am proud of my result and the family thought it was delicious!
Risotto is a rice dish cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. It originated in northern Italy where it is served as a “primo piatto” (first course) before the main entrée. At many restaurants around here, you will find it served as an entrée and I’ve even seen some sweet variations served as a dessert – seems strange, but think of rice pudding.
A few quick tips before you begin:
- It is essential that any liquid (both or cream) you are adding to the rice be hot, so have separate pots of the liquids. This ensures that as it is added to the rice it doesn’t stop the cooking process.
- Use a very wide pan so the rice can cook evenly as one layer.
Butternut Squash Risotto
½ whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (or save yourself some time and buy it already cleaned and cut at the grocery store)
6 cups of chicken broth (hot and in a side pot)
2 cups of Arborio rice
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream (warmed and in a side pan)
Finely minced parsley, for serving
Finely minced chives, for serving
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly cracked sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Bring the broth to a boil in a side pot. Reduce the heat and keep it at a simmer.
Melt the butter in a large, wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and sauté until it becomes soft. Add the squash to the sauté pan and cook it for about 5 minutes, until it becomes slightly golden.
Add ¼ cup water and cook 10-15 minutes more until the squash is tender. Using the back of a wooden spoon, partially smash the squash by pressing down on the cooked cubes. Stir in the rice, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cook it over medium-low heat for about a minute, allowing the rice to slightly toast.
Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and cook, stirring until it absorbs. Be careful not to add too much stock at once. Continue adding the hot stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed each time before adding more. Repeat this process for about 15-20 minutes, adding the hot cream toward the end of the cycle (within the last 5 minutes).
The risotto is cooked when you can drag the spoon through the center of the pan and it makes a clean line in the rice for a few seconds, as well as it is slightly al dente to the taste. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with the parsley, chives and Parmesan.
Yields 4-6 (or more) servings.
Do you like risotto?
How have you ever made risotto? If so, what kind did you make?