Butternut Squash Risotto

I recently signed up for this service where they will deliver a box of fresh, organic produce directly from local farms to your doorstep. I was leery of doing this because I’m a planner & you don’t know what you’re going to get until you open the box, but there was a special offer on Groupon, so I figured what the hell. The box comes every other Wednesday, so on those weeks, I can only meal plan for Monday & Tuesday until I see what I’m working with produce-wise.

This past Wednesday, I opened the door and shrieked like a child on Christmas morning. “It’s here! It’s here!” The Boy was thrilled by my enthusiasm & we dragged the box inside & opened it up, exclaiming with excitement at each item we pulled out.

Carrots, Meyer Lemons, Fiji Apples, Spinach … Butternut Squash!! It was very exciting, let me tell you … ok, that makes me sound like a housewife whose life is not very eventful, getting all excited over produce. Or maybe it just makes me sound like an enthusiastic cook. In any case, it was a great opportunity to talk about each fruit or vegetable with The Boy.

I have concocted a really delicious recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto. Allow me to share it with you. But before I do, let me give you a few insights about Risotto. It’s a dish that requires attention. You can’t just walk away from it, it needs to be stirred consistently.  It’s a fun dish to make with a friend / lover / spouse, so you can take turns stirring the risotto.  Using the correct heat is also important ~ if you cook with the heat too high, the grains won’t cook evenly & using too low heat will render you a sticky, gluey risotto.

I usually make this on Thanksgiving, but this year I was on my own in the kitchen with a house full of boys who were busy watching football, so I decided to skip it … Lucky for me, my first farm fresh delivery included 2 perfect butternut squash so I got to make this last night.

butternut squash risotto

BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO
serves 4-6
(a lovely side dish, but filling enough for a main dish as well)

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash (2 lbs) Peeled, seeded & cubed into 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
smidgen of cinnamon
2 tbsps olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock (you can use vegetable stock instead if you prefer)
6 tbsps unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 oz)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the squash in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the nutmeg and just a dash of cinnamon.  Toss well to coat all the butternut squash cubes.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing half way through cooking time.  Be careful not to overcook the squash, otherwise it will turn to mush.  You want it fork tender.

While the squash cooks, heat the chicken stock in a saucepan, leave on low heat to simmer.

In a heavy-bottom pot or a dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the shallots on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, until the shallots become translucent but not browned.  Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with the butter / shallot mixture.  Add the wine and cook for about 2 minutes or until the wine is mostly absorbed.  Add 2 ladles of stock to the rice, plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt & 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Stir and simmer until the stock is absorbed (about 5-10 minutes.)  Continue to add the stock – 2 ladles at a time – stirring every few minutes.  Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry and then add more stock.  Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente – about 30 minutes total.  You may not use all the stock, don’t fret!  Taste frequently to gauge the doneness of the risotto.  Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes & the Parmesan cheese.  Mix well & dash with a tiny smidgen of nutmeg.  Serve & enjoy!

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