There are few Autumnal culinary trifectas as ubiquitous and delicious as Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto, (and few better ways to enjoy one of the best vegetables of the season.) For the uninitiated, risotto is not actually the name of the grain, but rather a way of preparation and presentation, traditionally an Italian alternative to a first course of pasta. Arborio rice is used mainly for its starch content, since making risotto is much more of a technique than preparing other rice. There is no “cover it, set a timer and walk away” when making Risotto. You are in it from beginning to end!
Because of its starch content, cooking arborio rice slowly, adding warm liquid in batches and with more or less constant stirring, helps develop these starches and gives risotto its unmistakably creamy texture.
Once you master the technique of making risotto, you can substitute a myriad of herbs, cheeses and veggies into your variations.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, let’s collect our mise en place, (the french cooking term meaning ’all in place’ and the best habit to develop when following these recipes.)
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
1 C Arborio rice
32 oz chicken stock
1/2 small onion
1 medium butternut squash
1 bottle of Underwood Pinot Gris
STEP ONE: The Butternut Squash
Peel and dice 2 cups of Butternut Squash into 1/4 inch cubes. Separate into two 1 Cup piles.
Squash Pile 1:
Place squash and 1 TBS salt into a small saucepan. Cover with water and simmer until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain, mash with a fork or potato masher, and set aside in a warm place.
Squash Pile 2:
Get a thick-bottomed pan very hot, add 2 TBS olive oil and just when it starts to smoke a little, add the second Cup of diced squash, seasoning liberally with salt, pepper and a few pinches of curry powder. Allow the pieces to pick up some color in the pan, but do not burn. Once cooked through—about 10 minutes, place on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Set aside.
STEP TWO: The Risotto
Peel and dice half of a small onion. Set aside.
Take 5 sage leaves, roll them into a tube and slice into very fine ribbons. Set aside.
Pour the chicken stock into a pot and warm, but do not boil.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, add 2 TBS of oil and sauté the onion on medium heat for 3-4 minutes to soften but not color. Add the cup of Arborio rice and sauté, stirring constantly for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. When the rice is evenly translucent, pour in 1/2 Cup of Underwood Pinot Gris. Continue to stir and cook until all of the wine is absorbed by the rice. At this point, begin to add warm stock, one or two ladlefuls at a time, continuing to stir, and thus developing the starches in the rice. Continue adding stock until risotto reaches your desired texture.
FINISHING THE DISH:
At this point, adjust seasoning, stir in the mashed squash and fresh sage until evenly incorporated. Gently stir in half the roasted squash squares. Evenly distribute among the bowls and add the rest of the roasted squash. Garnish with some fresh or fried sage leaves.
Bon Appétit! and keep those #pinkiesdown