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Squash Is Not Just For Pie
I start making this in the fall, but continue throughout winter. It is one of my favorites from Gourmet Magazine twenty years ago. This risotto showcases butternut (or similar squash) by incorporating a rough purée made from one half of the squash and the other half, diced and roasted .I use a 24cm saute pan to make it. You do not need a special risotto pan. Use leftover squash risotto to make little arancini. I place a small piece of mozzarella with chopped sage in the middle, roll the small amount of the risotto mixture around it, and then follow the directions for any arancini recipe for frying.
My favorite peeler for stress-free peeling of any squash is this one by Messermeister. The handle is well designed for your grip, and more importantly, the blade is not cheap and doesn’t fall off its hinge under pressure. Some of the other ones I used had dreadful handles or if the handle was “ergonomic,” the blade was a throwaway. And I must admit, I use it to peel celery as well. The Anchor Hocking Batter Bowl has the measurements marked in raised glass and not painted on. It can keep the stock pretty hot on the back of the stove. I now just pour the stock out in increments as needed. It also comes with a BPA-free lid, which makes it really handy in the fridge for storing pancake batter or broth.
You really don’t need a “risotto pan”. Even in the sublime restaurant, Da Fiore in Venice, the waiter brings it out in a copper saucepan, stirring your portion before it is plated. Pictured is the 4 quart saute pan, which I have used daily for more than 40 years. It works as well for risotto as it does for rib chops. A copper pan is an investment, but I can attest that it gives results like no other piece of cookware and will last beyond your lifetime and never go into a landfill.
- 1 3lb (1 1/3kg) butternut squash
- 3 1/2 cups (3/4 lt) chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 cup (1/4lt) water
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 1/2 tsp peeled minced fresh ginger
- 5 tbs (74ml) unsalted butter
- 1 cup Arborio, Nano or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup (118 1/3 ml) dry white wine
- 1/4 cup (60ml) chopped chives
- Parsley and Parmesan shavings for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450F (230C)and oil a shallow baking pan
- Halve the squash lengthwise, and scrape out seeds
- Put one half cut-side down onto sheet and bake for 15 minutes
- Peel remaining half and cut into 1/4 inch (2/3cm) dice.
- Add diced squash to pan, spreading them into a loose single layer, season them with salt and pepper.
- Bake the squash dice and half another 15 minutes - they both should be tender.
- Scoop out the flesh from the squash half and roughly chop it.
- Bring the broth to a bare simmer in a saucepan on top of the stove.
- In a 4 quart (3 3/4 lt)casserole, gently saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the butter until just softened.
- Stir in the rice and coat with the soffrito using a wood spoon.
- Add wine, stirring until it completely absorbed.
- Stir in broth in 1/4 cup increments, stirring, so that it gets absorbed before adding the next one.
- Stir in the diced and roughly chopped squash about half way through the process.
- Finish with your final ladles of stock - it should be just under 20 minutes.
- Stir in chives, salt and pepper to taste.
- The chopped squash should give a creaminess to the risotto, so that you will just garnish with curls of Parmesan (done easily with a peeler) and additional chopped chives.or parsley.
- Serve immediately in warm bowls.
- You can prep the squash the day before, - cool it and then cover and refrigerate.
- My preference is always for Carnaroli Rice instead of Arborio - I think it gives you superior results.