Risotto is a frequent dish at our house because there are so many variations and it’s NOT difficult to prepare. Many are quite surprised when I say that as for some reason risotto has a reputation for being troublesome.
Part of the reason for this perception is the notion that it has to be cooked and stirred at the last minute meaning that if guests are coming for dinner you are standing at the stove. Not so! Risotto can be made before guests arrive except for adding the last liquid. Right before you are ready to serve, add the last 1-2 cups of liquid and finish it off in only a few minutes.
One of the keys to preparing risotto is to have the liquid, usually chicken or vegetable broth, very hot as it is an important part of the cooking process. Second is to not overcook. Like many pastas, risotto is best when it is al dente, otherwise it’s a bit mushy.
No matter what ingredients are added, risotto is a very satisfying meal that requires nothing more than a good salad, crusty bread and a glass of wine. Go ahead, try it and here’s a recipe sure to be a hit.
Butternut Squash Risotto
1/2 pound peeled butternut squash
6-7 c. chicken or vegetable stock
3 T. unsalted butter
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 c. arborio rice
2 rosemary branches
3/4 t. kosher salt
1/3 c. dry white wine
Finely grated zest of one lemon
1 t. lemon juice or more if you like a lemony taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped salted pistachios
Grated parmesan cheese
Shred the squash in a food processor or with a grater. In a small saucepan, bring stock to a simmer. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook about one minute. Add rice, squash, rosemary, and salt. Stir until the rice is slightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce for about two minutes. Add stock, 1 c. at a time, and cook, stirring often until most of the liquid has evaporated and the risotto has become creamy and thick. This will take about 25-30 minutes.* Remove rosemary stems and stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and black pepper. Garnish with the pistachios and optional cheese before serving.
*If you are preparing for guests, cook the risotto for about 15 minutes. Five minutes or so before you are ready to serve, finish it off by adding the last 1-2 c. of liquid. Remember the liquid must be hot.
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