Sunday, 30 October 2011

Risotto di Zucca

Some dishes have a reputation for being difficult. Risotto is one of those dishes, and the rep is totally undeserved. Sure, it requires some babysitting. And you can't make super labour-intensive sides for it while you are cooking it. But that's okay. A good risotto can be the star of the table.

And risotto is infinitely variable. The soft, creamy rice is a great vehicle for flavors and additions. Like today's risotto - butternut squash. Perfect for the season and a nice nutritional boost for your dish.

All risotto asks of you is time. And wine. Some for the risotto, some for the chef.

Set up your mise en place (get your sh$t together) first, and take it low and slow. Keep stirring and tasting and adding and drinking. What? The chef needs her rewards too.

Risotto di Zucca
adapted from Venizia by Tessa Kiros
for IHCC Harvest Moon

1¾ lbs butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1 inch peices
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
1 sprig of fresh sage
pinch hot pepper flakes
1 cup Arborio rice (I have a couple of tbsps of red rice in mine too)
¾ cup white wine
5 cups hot chicken or veggie stock, approximately
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat olive oil and butter in a large heavy pot. An enamel-coated cast iron pot works nicely here.
Add onions and cook on medium until they are golden.
Add in bacon and continue to cook until is is crispy. Stir often.
Add sage and pepper flakes and squash chunks. Salt and pepper.
Turn heat down a touch and let cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes - until squash starts to soften. Stir once in a while so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
Add rice. Stir to coat the grains of rice and cook one minute.
Add in wine and cook, stirring, until much of it is absorbed.
Add stock, one ladle-full at a time. Let the risotto slowly absorb the small batches of liquid and get creamy as you stir leisurely and sexy-like.
Keep tasting as you go. Risotto is all about stirring and tasting. Make sure you have your wine handy- both for you and your dish - you never know when either will call for a little extra vino.
When the risotto is at the right texture and flavour to please you - add in the cheese and parsley.
Serve hot with extra cheese on top.

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