Butternut Squash Risotto

This is Mama Cheater Bites absolute favorite risotto, and we have a lot to choose from!  It’s a great fall/winter dish with the caramelized squash.  And oh, the spiced butter really adds the final flourish, so don’t leave it out!  While this is a rather time consuming dish, it is totally worth the work for a special occasion.

for the spiced butter:
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons roasted garlic puree
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh marjoram
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
salt & white pepper

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Cover and set aside at room temperature.  You can prepare this a day ahead and refrigerate it until ready.

for the caramelized squash:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
coarse salt and white pepper
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Season the squash with the salt and pepper, then add to pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally until nicely browned, about 6 minutes.  Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the brown sugar and cook until the squash is caramelized, but till holding its shape, about 2 minutes.  You can make this a few hours in advance and set aside.

for the risotto:
2 quarts chicken stock/broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces maple smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup minced shallots or onions
1 pound arborio rice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat parsley
coarse salt and white pepper

In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and keep hot on a very low flame.  In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; stir in the rice, sage and thyme.  Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until the rice is coated, turns a mily white color and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, 8-10 minutes.  Add the wine and boil until completely reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.  Ladle about 1 cup of the simmer stock into the rice.  Cook, stirring often, until the stock is almost completely absorbed by the rice.  Continue cooking and stirrin, adding another cup of stock only when the previous addition has been absorbed.  After 15 minutes, begin tasting the rice.  At this point, add the remaining stock.  The rice should be firm, yet cooked through in about 20 minutes.

Stir in the speed butter and the parsley.  Season with salt and pepper, then gently fold in the squash cubes, keeping them as intact as possible.  Serve immediately.

*Note: you could easily substitute another type of winter squash in here, dependent upon what is available in your store or what you are in the mood for!

Serves: 4
Time: about 1 hour
From: Alfred Portale’s Gotham Bar & Grill Cookbook

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