Butternut Squash Risotto

Friday, October 14, 2011 - 
I think I'm on a risotto kick.  I made a spring like risotto last week, a pumpkin risotto the week before, and now a butternut squash risotto.  They have all been very different to say the least, but still, risotto.

The pumpkin risotto was roasted pumpkin served on top of the risotto.  My spring type risotto was made with barley and had some shrimp.  But this risotto, I decided to change it up a bit by having my broth be where I add the squash.  I had made a gratin with half of the squash this past Sunday (post to come soon), so I had half of it left.  With a little bit of rice, I added squash risotto to the menu as our vegetarian dish for the week (kind of - you'll see why).  I was very pleased with the results.  Maybe the best risotto I've made yet (I thought my mushroom risotto was good, but this one tops it) - creamy, earthy, and delicious.

  • Arborio rice, about 1/2 cup
  • Chicken broth, about 5-6 cups
  • Butternut squash, cubed (about 2 cups, half of a squash)
  • Small onion, finely chopped
  • Garlic clove, finely chopped
  • White wine, about 1/2 a cup
  • Sage, 4-6 fresh leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Few slices of cooked bacon (optional of course)
Begin by prepping your broth. Whether you use homemade, the bouilon paste (like I do if I don't have homemade on hand), or the boxed/canned, it all works pending on how you want to get it.  I always watch out for lower sodium though, things can get too salty if you don't.  Once you get your broth into a pan, add the cubed squash and allow it to come to a boil.  I cooked the squash in the broth hoping to give it even more flavor for about 15 minutes or until the squash was fork tender.

Remove from heat and grab that hand held blender of yours.  What, you don't have one?  Well, no worries, a regular blender works just as fine.  Blend until the squash is incorporated into the broth, giving you a very attractive orange liquid that is a bit thicker than what the broth would normally be.  Put it back on the stove and simmer (do not boil) as you prepare the rice.  Be careful not to burn yourself as you blend, no matter which way you blend.

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large pan.  Saute the onion and garlic until fragrant and the onion is translucent in color.  Add the rice and saute a bit for some color, stirring frequently to ensure it doesn't burn.  Once you have a little color, add the white wine and stir until all the white wine is dissolved and cooked into the rice.

At this point, start adding your simmering broth.  Add one cup to the rice mixture and stir until the liquid is completely dissolved.  Then, add some more and repeat.  Keep stirring and you'll notice as you work through the liquid, for about 20 minutes, your rice will release all the starches and becoming creamy.  That is what you are looking for my friends, creamy and delicious rice.  Nom.

When the rice is done taking in liquid and you are just about done with your broth (you may or may not use all of it, I think I had about 1/2 a cup left out of the 4 or 5 cups I started with), you'll have a creamy rice dish you'll be dying to eat.  How do you know if it is done?  Well, try it.  If the rice isn't crunch, it is done.

Remember that sage?  Chop that up and add at this point.  But wait, add a little cheese if you have it too.  I had some parmigiano reggiano on hand and I grated about 1/4 of cup into the rice.  Stirred that together and plated.

And of course, bacon.  I had made some bacon as we were also going to have BLT sandwiches (we didn't end up having them I might add).  As I took a bite of the risotto, I turned to hubs and said, "mmm, wouldn't pork just be great with this?"  Well, hello bacon that was sitting on the counter.  How convenient.  I crunched that up and put it on top - sorry for the lack of photo - but you get the idea.  Delish, and optional for my veggie friends.

I may be completely wrong here, but I don't think risotto should be intimidating to anyone in the kitchen.  As long as you have a little patience, you'll be rewarded.  Enjoy!