We are on somewhat of a risotto fix lately. That and the fact that I'm determined that we have meatless days at least twice a week.
Let me re-phrase that; I am trying to have meatless days at least twice a week. And with butternut squash coming into season, its going to be at our dinner table a few times a week.
When I'm cooking dinner and want something other than pasta or stir-fry that's easy, risotto is my go-to.
I've worked up some tricks over the years that I think work as brilliant time saving strategies without compromising on flavor. For example, it's fantastic to have homemade chicken stock especially for a delicately flavored risotto such as this one. However, not always a weeknight reality. So simply by using good quality carton chicken stock and simmering for a bit with bunches of fresh herbs and veggies, I end up with a spruced up chicken stock that works brilliantly.
Here’s a lovely risotto that I'm making with about half of one butternut squash (or one small packet pre-cut pieces that I love to have handy in the refrigerator).
The risotto is simple and lovely dish with oven roasted butter nut squash, arborio rice (a must!) spruced up broth, onions, white wine, and of course shredded Parmigiano Reggiano. It takes good quality ingredients, a bit of attention stirring away while the rice slowly absorbs the broth and the result is perfection.
A glass of vino and some great music goes a long way taking this dish from a chore to a delight!
1 cup dry white wine like a Pinot Grigio (good quality - the same bottle you’ll have with dinner!)
1 cup shredded aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1 tsp salt
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.Yellow onion & celery for stock: Peel and roughly dice the onion. Cut the celery into circles using leaves as well.
Onion: Peel the onions and discard the ends. Finely chop and set aside.
Rice: Measure and set aside.
Sage: Roll up the leaves and finely chop. Set aside until ready to use.
Butternut squash: Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash with the 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Roast for approx. 15-20 minutes until golden brown and tender. Set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven off.
Bring the stock & water to boil with the coarsely chopped onion, celery, thyme and parsley sprigs for 15 minutes. Sieve the stock, discarding the veggies and keep a metal ladle and measuring cup handy for the stock.
In a Dutch oven or 3" deep, sauté pan heat the olive oil & butter until the butter has melted.
Add the finely chopped onion, garlic & 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté the onion for approx. 7-10 minutes over medium heat until softened and translucent but not brown. Add sage and the rice and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the white wine & simmer. Add 2 cups of the stock and stir with a wooden spoon turn the heat to medium-high, stirring constantly until the stock is absorbed.
From this point on, continue to add 1 cup of stock at a time, stir to cook rice, until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Continue this process over the next 30 minutes or so until the rice cooks to al-dente and turns creamy at the same time.
Cook’s Note: The rice shouldhave a bit of bite to it and yet be creamy soft. You will need to keep ladling the stock & allowing the rice to absorb the liquid until you reach the right consistency and mouth feel for the rice.
Once you’ve reached the right consistency, add the roasted butter nut squash, cheese, heavy cream. Once the cheese melts, taste and adjust the seasoning.
Combine and serve immediately with a smattering of finely chopped parsley if desired, more cheese for the table and a glass of vino!