Risotto is so much simpler than people think. You hear a lot about how 'labour intensive' it is, but for me, slowly stirring a dish that will always come out is beyond relaxing. I think I might just open up a spa with a risotto treatment. My first risotto was this one, and it turned out so perfectly that I've kept the theory behind it as the recipe-less basis for every risotto I've made since.
Tonight looks like it'll be a particularly charming fall evening, and instead of raking up the leaves, I'll pay homage to their colours with a butternut squash risotto. Recipe hidden below these comically amateur photos
about 40 minutes later and almost ready...
1 Butternut Squash, seeded and halved
Salt & Pepper
1 white Onion, finely chopped (or substitute shallots)
2-9876234 cloves of GARLIC, minced
1 tbs Butter
splash of white wine
1 cup arborio rice
1-2 cartons Chicken or Veggie Stock, warmed
1. Preheat oven to 450. Place squash cut side up on a baking pan, and season with olive oil, salt & pepper. Bake 30-50 minutes, until done. Once cooled, mash or puree about 1 cup of the squash. the rest can be saved for soup, cubes, etc.
2. Bring a buttered pan to medium heat, and cook onions until nearly translucent, add garlic and cook one minute more. Add a splash of white wine.
3. Toss in the rice, and stir to coat for a minute or so. add one cup of chicken broth.
4. Now stir, and stir and stir. Stir slowly, and drag the rice around with a wooden spoon. You're trying to massage the starch out of the rice to give it that beautiful rich texture. after one cup of broth has been absorbed, add another, and another. After about 3 cups, taste to gauge how much further you have to go.
5. You may add the squash to the stock itself, either all of it, or to one or 2 cups of it, or add it after your risotto has reached it's mushy perfection.
6. Now plate and dress your risotto with grated parmesan, kale chips, or fresh herbs of your choosing.
And you've achieved heavenly risotto perfection. You can sub out the squash for virtually any veggie, just puree and add to the stock or at the end (I've even made a 'cream of tomato' risotto in a pinch by adding a CAN (shame, I know) of Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup at the end- and what's worse is that it was absolutely delicious). Now try not to eat all of this in one beautifully shameful sitting. The leftovers make for a very special lunch. One day, when I'm happy and secure with my body weight, I'll make a cheese risotto. It might kill me though, and that's the only reason I've yet to try it. Enjoy!
*the most important trick I learned from what's cooking mexico is not to shy away from food colouring; in the case of the strawberry risotto it makes the difference between brown muck and beautiful beet-bright risotto