NaBloPoMo --or,as it is now known to me, the parade of dismal pictures -- continues. I'm having a remarkable run of pictures which look as if they were taken with a cell phone camera under fluorescent light.
Today I made this risotto for my parents who were thrilled with it. I also enjoyed it, despite the fact that I don't have a completely cordial relationship with winter squash. This is one of those holdovers from childhood and my lack of regard for butternut squash has to do with its "mushiness" factor which the risotto accentuates. The squash is much more appealing straight out of the oven with its edges caramelized and almost crisp. When I make this again, I will serve the squash on top of the risotto rather than stirred through it. The radicchio in the risotto I love (what is it about me and my love of bitterness?) and it makes a nice combination with the sweetness of the squash.
It occurs to me that if you're one of those people who's not bound to mash potatoes and gravy for Thanksgiving, this would make a good, if untraditional, side dish. It won't be happening for me though; while I'm not at all bound to mashed potatoes my husband lives for them.
Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio and Parmesan
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, serves 6
2 cups winter squash (I used butternut, Suzanne Goin uses kabocha) cut in 1/2 " dice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons thyme leaves
4 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced white onion
2 cups Arborio rice
1 chile de arbol, crumbled
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Regianno
1/4 cup sliced flat leaf parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
2. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of oil, the thyme, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add 4 cups of water to the 4 cups of chicken broth, and bring to boil, then turn off heat.
4. In another heavy, medium-sized pot heat the pot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of butter, and when it foams add the onion, remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme, the chile de arbol, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a grind of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Stir in the rice and half the squash. Add additional salt, up to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Be cautious with the salt -- if you are using canned broth you may need much less, or may not need it at all. Cook about two minutes, stirring constantly. The rice will become translucent except for a white dot at the center of each grain.
6. Add wine. Once it's been absorbed begin adding the hot broth, 1 cup at a time, and stirring continuously. When one cup of broth has been absorbed, add the next one. The rice should be bubbling and absorbing the broth quickly.
7. After about 15 minutes, begin testing the rice for doneness. It is done when the rice is al dente -- tender with slight resistance to the bite towards the center of each grain. When the rice is almost done, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining squash. Let the risotto "rest" for about 2 minutes, then stir in radicchio and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste for seasoning and if needed add additional salt. If the rice seems dry (ideally it should be neither soupy nor dry). Stir in the remaining two tablespoons of butter, and the parsley. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
8. Serve the risotto, in large, shallow bowls.
If you've never made risotto, you might find this how-to-make risotto video helpful.