Sunday, November 21, 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto. An Italian rice dish that is so much more than just rice. It’s rich, creamy, and one of my favorite foods. It’s simple to make, but all-consuming. You have to be ready to commit yourself to half an hour or more at the stove alone stirring in broth. And it’s best served immediately.

I picture this being the perfect side dish for someone who desperately wants an hour away from the family to prepare. Tell them you have to concentrate so you don’t burn the rice and that you’re sure everyone will love the dish when you’re done. Then pour a glass of wine and commune with the ingredients while everyone else stirs up the family drama without you. Sounds nice doesn’t it?

I combined a bunch of my favorite ingredients for this wonderful fall dish: rice, squash, garlic, and red wine. It’s comfort food, plain and simple, which is the best kind of dish for Thanksgiving.

Butternut Squash Risotto

I adapted this recipe from  ones by Mario Batali and Giada de Laurentiis, two fantastic Italian chefs.

3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash, par-cooked, peeled, diced
2 ¼ c. Arborio rice
½ c. semi sweet red wine
4-6 cups vegetable broth
3 T butter
¼ c. grana padano, grated (plus more for garnish)

Heat vegetable broth in a small pot on a back burner of the stove and allow to simmer while making the risotto.

Heat olive oil in a tall skillet or wide mouthed pot. Sauté garlic and squash for about 5 minutes. Add Arborio rice and toast for about 2 minutes. Add wine and stir in until absorbed. Add vegetable broth about ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously until each addition has dissolved. Continue to do this until rice is al dente, about 15-20 minutes. Taste it starting around 12 minutes and cook until rice reaches desired consistency. Stir in grana padano and butter. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated grana padano.

4 days to go…

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