CLASSIC pasta butternut (or winter) squash risotto
         

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Fall, autumn, harvest -- squash is the perfect symbol for this wonderful time of year. Therefore, for the occasion, a butternut squash risotto. Actually, any winter squash will work well.

Ingredients:

  • two cups of Arborio rice (or the two other approved varieties)
  • five cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • one small onion, finely diced
  • one medium butternut squash
  • two tablespoons of olive oil
  • two tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • one half cup dry white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • one tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • one-half cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Prepare the squash. Cut the squash into about eight pieces. Remove the seeds. You should have about two pounds of squash at this point.

Put the squash into a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water, cover, and steam about ten to fifteen minutes, until the squash is tender. (We actually use a wok and bamboo steamer, Chinese style, for this process). Remove from steamer and put on cutting board.

When the squash has started to cool, scrape the flesh away from the skin, into a bowl. Discard the skins. Smash the squash somewhat so it is a rough pulp.

to cook the risotto: (a more detailed and elaborate description of the risotto cooking technique can be found at how to cook risotto).

Bring the stock to a slow simmer in a pan next to the risotto pan. In a thick-bottomed pan (the risotto pan), over medium-high heat: add the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter. Add the onion. Cook until soft (about four minutes over a medium-low heat).  Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated with the oil.  Add the white wine and stir briefly. Now add a cup of stock and the squash. Stir; add a teaspoon of salt.  As soon as the stock liquid is absorbed, add another cup of stock. Continue to add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, only adding another ladle when the previous ladle of liquid has been absorbed, stirring and tending  almost all of the time.  Continue adding the ladles of stock until the rice is properly done: twenty minutes or so. Just before it is perfect al dente, add the rosemary and nutmeg, and a twist or two of the pepper mill and stir well.

Determine proper doneness by tasting regularly. When it is just al dente, with a little creaminess, it is ready. Take off the heat. Stir in the parmesan, and the final tablespoon of butter. Taste for salt.  We let it sit, covered, for a minute or two.

Serve into preheated bowls (hopefully a color that will meld perfectly with the beautiful squash color). Add a sprig of rosemary to each bowl, and sprinkle with a little more parmesan.


 

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