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Butternut Squash Risotto

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated.  [Recipe serves 4 people].

With the exception of yesterday's odd weather, fall is definitely here.  So it's time to make the most of fall comfort foods before the snow hits.

Doing a quick scan through recipes, I can't think of a dish more comforting than risotto.  And when you pair it with fall-favorites like butternut squash, sage, and nutmeg, you've got the ultimate fall comfort food.

I made the addition of adding a little cinnamon to give warmth to the dish and bring out the nutmeg.  In addition, I garnished the dish with goat cheese.  I'm not a fan of the stuff on its own, but man, when it's used correctly with other ingredients, it can really elevate a dish and tie everything together.  A third alteration that would do wonders to this dish would be some toasted walnut pieces.  Mmm, mmm, good!

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 butternut squash, roughly 2 pounds
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1 1/2 cups dry white wine

1 1/2 ounces Parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 ounce goat cheese, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Start by trimming off the ends of the squash and peeling the outside with a vegetable peeler.  Half with a sharp knife and remove the seeds, making sure not to dispose of any scraps and seeds.  Dice the flesh of the squash into 1/2" cubes.  Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add 3 1/2 cups of diced squash and let the squash start to brown, roughly 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper, toss, and continue cooking until the squash is al dente, roughly 5 more minutes.  Transfer the cooked squash to a bowl and reserve.  Add any extra cubed squash and all of the scraps and seeds to the hot skillet and cook for 5 minutes.  Then transfer to a large sauce pan along with the broth and water.  Cover the sauce pan, bring to a boil, and then reduce to low.

In your skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the onions and cook for several minutes.  Then add the garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Saute for a minute, or until the garlic is fragrant, and then add the rice.  Stir frequently for 3 minutes, and then deglaze with white wine.  Cook until the wine is almost completely absorbed.

Strain off the stock and dispose of any solids.  Add 3 cups of broth and half of the cooked squash to the rice.  Simmer for 12 minutes, or until most of the stock is absorbed.  Continue adding the broth to the rice and stirring, until the rice is fully cooked.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, Parmesan, fresh sage, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Lastly, fold in the remaining cooked squash.  Season to taste, and adjust the consistency with additional warm broth if desired.

Serve and garnish with goat cheese and additional sage and/or Parmesan, if desired.  [Side note:  If you plan on keeping some for leftovers, stir in some additional stock before refrigerating.  This way the risotto will keep its consistency after being reheated].

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