The natural sweet flavor of butternut squash combines perfectly with the rich creamy risotto. This recipe from Cook’s Illustrated uses the squash's seeds and fibers to help deepen the earthy squash flavor. Makes a great fall dish, and the balsamic drizzle is optional, but delivers great finishing touch.
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a first course
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 butternut squash (medium, about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into ½ inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
¾ teaspoon table salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 small onions, chopped very fine (about 1 ½ cups)
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2 cups Arborio rice
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 ½ ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves
¼ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
For the Drizzle:
- Combine vinegar and sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat and bring up to a bubble. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the liquids until they've reduced by about half and are thick and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use
For the Risotto:
- Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add about 3 1/2 cups squash in even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer squash to bowl and set aside.
- Return skillet to medium heat; add reserved squash fibers and seeds and any leftover diced squash. Cook, stirring frequently to break up fibers, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large saucepan and add chicken broth and water; cover saucepan and bring mixture to simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain bare simmer.
- Melt 3 tablespoons butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add onions, garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, strain hot broth through a fine mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth hot.
- When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 cups hot broth and half of reserved squash to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and bottom of pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.
- Stir in about 1/2 cup hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter, Parmesan, sage, and nutmeg; gently fold in remaining cooked squash. If desired, add up to 1/4 cup additional hot broth to loosen texture of risotto.
- Serve immediately on warm flat plates, drizzled with Balsamic glaze and extra parmesan.