Monday, December 5, 2011

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash
When you think decadent, comfort food, think risotto.  This Italian delicacy has been (mis)labeled by many as difficult to make well.  Sure, it's a labor of love, rather than a leave it and forget it type of dish, but the payoff is worth the all the effort.

When making risotto, patience, more than anything, is the name of the game.  I use the traditional Arborio rice that yields the creamy, lusciousness that is risotto's trademark.  Flavored with a base of onions, seasonings, wine, and bathed in stock throughout the cooking process, it comes out as a scrumptious bite again and again.  You can keep it simple with a finish of freshly grated cheese--or you can use it as the base for incorporating everything from vegetables, to mushrooms, to shellfish, to whatever your tastes desire.

I've prepared it many ways, but last night I decided to go with roasted butternut squash (which carries undeniable, mouth-watering goodness all its own), as a hearty addition to this dish.  The two paired deliciously well for a fulfilling and satisfying meal.

Like me, I'm sure that once you embrace risotto in your kitchen, there will be no turning back.  (And who would want to, anyway?)

Happy Eating!

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash

1.5 to 2 lbs butternut squash
1 cup Arborio rice
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup white wine
5 cups chicken stock*
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and Pepper 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and cut butternut squash (removing seeds and pith) into one-inch square pieces.  Place squash on  a lined-baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper.  Toss together and roast in pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes, until tender and caramelized.  (Toss mid-way through cooking.)

In a saucepan, bring stock to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

Heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan.  Add in onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion becomes translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in rice and stir to coat it with the oil and butter.  Add in wine and cook until the wine is absorbed.  Add a ladle full of stock and stir until the stock is absorbed.  Repeat and continue cooking for about 20 minutes.

Remove risotto from heat and add cheese and roasted butternut squash.  Garnish with more cheese to taste, as desired.  Enjoy!

*Cook's Note:  Substitute vegetable broth or water for a vegetarian version. 

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