Butternut squash risotto is another great seasonal variation on the basic risotto recipe. The butternut squash really complements the risotto, both in its sweet flavor and its creamy texture.
Risotto is prepared with a type of starchy, short-grained rice called arborio rice. Cooking it involves stirring hot stock into the uncooked rice a ladleful at a time and cooking slowly as the stock is absorbed. This releases the rice's natural starches, producing the creamy, velvety consistency characteristic of perfect risotto.
For an illustrated demonstration of the risotto method, see this step-by-step tutorial: how to make risotto.
- 1 1/2 cups/210 grams butternut squash (peeled first, seeds removed, then diced)
- 1 1/2 cups/225 grams arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 medium shallot (about 1/2 cup or 1/2 small onion, chopped)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus an extra 2 tablespoon oil for crisping the sage)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 6 to 8 fresh whole sage leaves (plus a few extra leaves finely chopped)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, toss the squash chunks in about a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of Kosher salt, plus the chopped sage leaves. Transfer to a sheet pan and roast for about 30 minutes or until they're tender and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoon of oil in a small sauté pan. When it's hot, add the sage leaves, lower the heat to medium and cook for a minute or two, until the leaves are crispy. Then remove the leaves to paper towels and set aside.
- Heat the stock in a saucepan, and lower the heat so that it just stays hot but doesn't boil.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
- Next, add the rice and sauté for another minute or two, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon so that the rice doesn't have a chance to brown, until it gives off a nutty aroma and the grains are coated with the oil.
- Add the wine and cook for another minute, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed.
- Now begin by adding a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and stirring until it is absorbed. It's important to stir constantly, especially while the hot stock gets absorbed, so that the rice doesn't scorch, and add the next ladle as soon as the rice is almost dry.
- Continue in this manner, adding a ladleful of stock and stirring while the liquid is absorbed, then adding another ladleful when the rice is almost dry. You'll see the rice develop a creamy consistency as its natural starches are released.
- Keep adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.
- Stir in the roasted squash along with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the parmesan cheese, and season to taste with Kosher salt. Serve in individual bowls and garnish with the crispy sage leaves.
Note: Risotto turns sticky if held for too long, so you should serve it right away. A properly cooked risotto should form a soft, creamy mound on a dinner plate. It shouldn't run across the plate, nor should it be stiff or gluey.
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