With the news that many of my Upstate New York friends and family got snow yesterday, I figured that they could use something to warm them up. Risotto is a perfect cold weather recipe! I have recently made two versions - a butternut squash risotto with my mom, and a mushroom risotto that I made when Kristen came to visit. Risotto does take some time to make and requires a lot of stove hovering, but is well worth the effort.
Butternut Squash Risotto
1 box Arborio Rice (1 lb)
12 cups chicken or vegetable stock (you can also use less stock and cut it with water)
Half of a butternut squash peeled and cubed
4 cloves of garlic (diced/minced)
1 onion (diced)
1 stick of butter
2 tblsp Half & Half or heavy cream
Extra virgin olive oil
1- 2 cups Parmesan cheese
Seasoning: salt, pepper, fresh sage dried parsley, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon
Peel, cube and season (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon salt) butternut squash, toss with extra virgin olive oil, bake until soft and set aside.
In a stock pot or deep saute pan melt a stick of butter, add diced onion and cook until clear, add minced garlic (careful not to burn).
Add entire box of Arborio rice and "toast" the rice (this should take about 1-2 minutes) again, careful not to burn.
Slowly ladle in 1 cup of stock at a time (vegetable or chicken). Wait until the rice absorbs the stock before adding another ladle full.
After roughly 35 minutes (may take longer depending on amount and heat) of stirring and adding one ladle of stock at a time, you will start to notice that the rice takes more time to absorb all of the stock.
Start tasting, ideally the rice should be somewhat al dente (have a bite to it) without feeling too hard. Keeping the rice al dente is important, no one likes a mushy paste-like risotto.
Add about half of a cup of Parmesan (or your favorite) grated cheese.
When rice is just about cooked, add the already cooked butternut squash.
Season to taste- I find that Parmesan already adds enough saltiness, but feel free to add more salt if needed. Add pepper, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to taste.
To finish add a swirl of half & half or heavy cream- just one quick swirl around the pan (a few tablespoons). Stir risotto folding it in on itself.
Same ingredients as above, but substitute squash for cleaned and chopped mushrooms.
I prefer chicken stock with this recipe.
Alter seasonings: I use an Italian mix seasoning that has dried basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
No need to cook the mushrooms beforehand, simply add them to the risotto towards the end when rice is almost cooked.
Follow all other steps above.
Hope that you all can try this comforting recipe over the weekend. Happy Friday!