It was a cold, dreary, wet Saturday in Fishtown. After suffering days of this weather earlier last week, you would think I couldn’t take it any longer.
The truth is, I’ve been dying for the brisk weather for months now. This summer, I mastered a few risotto dishes that (though they were delicious at the time) I found difficult to devour in the 90 degree heat. “Rainy Saturday” seemed to me a golden opportunity to break out the Arborio rice and master another risotto recipe.
Greensgrow Farms, our CSA, gave us a wonderful bundle last week which included the butternut squash that would be the highlight of my recipe. I must admit, my consumption of this fall vegetable consists of a few teaspoons full of soup I once tried (and enjoyed) however it always seemed intimidating to work with. With a sharp peeler and knife, I could not have been more wrong.
Courtesy of Martha Stewart, this Butternut Squash Risotto makes my “Top 5” of meals I’ve ever made. Though several similar recipes popped up on her site, this one seemed the most appealing due to the interesting combination of flavors from the squash, rosemary and nutmeg – three flavors characteristic of Autumn (and the brisk weather!).
Butternut Squash Risotto
Serves 4 to 6
1 medium butternut squash
6 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 shallots, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cut squash into eighths; discard seeds. In a large pot filled with 1 inch of simmering water, steam squash on a steaming rack or in a bamboo steamer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Scoop flesh from skin and mash lightly.
2. In a large saucepan, heat stock to a simmer. In a large heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add oil and shallots; cook for 2 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
3. Add wine to rice, and cook, stirring, until wine is nearly absorbed. Stir in a cup of stock and the squash; cook at a steady simmer until liquid is nearly absorbed. Continue stirring in stock, a ladleful at a time, until rice is creamy and firm but not hard in the center, 15 to 20 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Add chopped rosemary. Stir in remaining butter and most of the Parmesan. Serve immediately in shallow bowls garnished with the remaining cheese and rosemary sprigs.
The outcome is a perfectly starchy, creamy, heavy dish; the butternut squash lent a slightly sweet flavor while the rosemary gave the end result a fresh kick. Though it certainly is not the main ingredient, the nutmeg was just apparent enough and seemed to blend with the other flavors perfectly. Martha’s Butternut Squash Risotto recipe is incredibly satisfying and could be considered a main event…which is exactly what it was on that cold, dreary, wet Saturday in Fishtown.
Because I have yet to complete my arsenal of kitchen gadgets and appliances, I modified step one: I cut the top and bottom (about1.5 inches from inch) of the squash, and peeled it. Next, I halved it, removed the seeds and membranes and cut it into 1-inch cubes, which were then steamed in the microwave under a damp paper towel (any other suggestions are welcome!).
Additionally, I left the cheese out of my dish, which you will eventually find is the case with most recipes I try; this is only to please my loving boyfriend, who can’t stand it. I know what you’re thinking, and trust me, it still baffles me to this day that anyone would not even be willing to go near cheese. Still, if this is his only flaw, I’ll take it…he puts up with my fascination of the kitchen, my obsession with cooking gadgets, will wait patiently to taste test as I spend hours figuring out a recipe, and cleans the dishes.
Plus, a way to a man’s heart is his stomach.