Thursday, February 21, 2008

Butternut Squash Risotto: expectations exceeded!

One of the best things about life is when things exceed your expectations. For New York Giants fans winning this year's Super Bowl had to be right up there. For Barack Obama, having the voters helping him take Hillary and Bill out to the political woodshed and giving them a sound thrashing has to be pretty sweet. For me, you know it's all about the food, and when something that I thought looked good on first reading turns into this kickass dinner, then that is one of the best things in life.

Last night I really wasn't motivated to make much of anything, but knew that on the way home from the wine shack I had to stop at the store to get something, as during an email exchange about 4:30 I had promised w there would be some sort of sustenance on the table that night. I had been having thoughts of risotto for the last couple of days, so that was my starting point. I went online at epicurious, popped in a risotto search, and came across a couple of butternut squash risottos that looked intriguing. They both had gotten good reviews, and I frankly picked the one I did because it was simplest. So with a quick stop at New Seasons, some chopping, roasting, and pureeing, a little tweaking of the original recipe, and a modicum of stirring produced one of the most satisfying risottos I've EVER tasted. I mean this dish rocked hard. The kick from the ginger melded perfectly with the sweet/savory roasted squash, and mixed with creamy risotto this was absolutely stellar. Plus the color was stunning. I can't wait for my next dinner party as I feel a showstopping first course coming on. Give this one a spin, because the unexpected pleasure to be derived will exceed all your expectations!

note on the picture: the topping in the pic are parmesan curls that the recipe called for. Well, my parma didn't exactly do the curl thing, and we both thought that a light sprinkling of cheese was a better way to go anyway.
*** *** ***

Butternut Squash Risotto
adapted from epicurious

can be prepared in 60 minutes or less.
serves 4 or 6 as a first course

1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds)
32 oz. chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh gingerroot
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Finely grated Parmesan

Garnish: chopped fresh chives and Parmesan
Preheat oven to 450°F.

1-Halve squash lengthwise and discard seeds. Peel one half and cut into 1/4-inch dice and toss with a light coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Put remaining half, cut side down, in an oiled shallow baking pan with diced squash and season with salt and pepper. Bake squash in middle of oven, stirring diced squash occasionally, until tender and browned lightly, 15 to 20 minutes. (the chopped squash should be dome at this point. Remove from pan and set aside in bowl. Pull out and check 1/2 squash. If not done, leave in oven another 5-10 minutes). Holding halved squash in a kitchen towel, scoop out flesh and puree in blender. Add a few splashes of chicken stock to help blending if necessary.

2-In a saucepan bring broth and water to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer.

3-In another saucepan cook onion, garlic, and gingerroot in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Stir in 1/2 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, and keeping at a simmer throughout, until absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next. When rice is al dente (not too soft, with a nice chew) stir in diced and pureed squash. Add more stock as necessary for a creamy texture and remove from heat. Add salt to taste.

4-Spoon risotto into shallow serving bowls and garnish with chives and a light sprinkling of Parmesan.

No comments: