What a beautiful fall weekend it's been. My oldest son came home from college to watch Northwestern play Michigan State here. Of course, I've been cooking all of his favorites - ribs, stuffed potatoes, chocolate molten cakes with meringue - and got the fun last minute job this morning of cooking breakfast for him and four of his buddies. I miss all those boys. It's a little sad having two of my three boys away at school. . .
I've also been following Joanne Weir this week on Twitter. She's in the Cinque Terre of Italy with a cooking class. How I would have loved to go. But I can live vicariously through Twitter, I guess. She's been posting real time tweets from her phone and I loved this tweet from yesterday:
"Out on Angelo's boat on the Lugurian Sea drinking prosecco.
VERY happy students in tow. Gorgeous day"
Doesn't that just make you wish you were with them? I really love that she's sharing that trip with her Twitter followers. I can hear about what restaurants they are eating at (and bookmarking them for later), what day trips they are taking and what artisans they are visiting. For people who are not on Twitter, it's hard to explain the appeal. But if you follow people you are really interested in, this is the kind of thing that makes it worth it.
It has really turned cold here and so it's time to make risotto for fall and that means butternut squash risotto. That doesn't just mean butternut squash, but roasted butternut squash. Roasting the vegetables for any dish intensifies its flavor and sweetens it and butternut squash really benefits from this technique. Please keep in mind that this dish, as usual, is about technique, not an exact recipe. A couple of glugs of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt - how long to roast - these are things all up to you. You should cook by feel, by intuition and that will come with practice. But you must be free to experiment and cook to your liking - maybe you like more pepper or olive oil than I do - or less salt. It is up to you and yes, you can adjust these things. So don't be restricted to exact measurements.
As I've explained before, you shouldn't be afraid of making risotto because of the stirring. Stir a little, attend to something else in the kitchen, stir a little, sip a glass of wine, stir a little. . . you get it.
For quantities, when I make risotto, I usually figure about 1/4 cup dry rice per serving.
Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sage
for a printer friendly recipe, click here
- 1 small butternut squash (you will probably use just one half)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 4-6 cups chicken stock, warmed on the stove in a pot
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Peel squash with vegetable peeler. Trim ends. Cut squash in half, vertically. (You can save one half for another use - roast it and serve it with dinner tomorrow). Scoop out seeds. Cut squash into 1 inch cubes and place on foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until tender, about 25 minutes. Test with a fork. You want nice crispy carmelized pieces - do not be afraid to roast the squash a little longer.
Meanwhile, start risotto. In a medium size pot, (I use a Chef's pan with sloping sides, it makes stirring the risotto easier) add 2 tablespoons olive oil and chopped onion. Saute onion until a little soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add rice and toast the rice, stirring for about 2-3 minutes. Add herbs and stir.
Add wine and let simmer for a couple of minutes. Start adding stock with a ladle, just a couple of ladles at a time. Stir the risotto, leave uncovered at a simmer. When the stock has almost completely evaporated, add a couple more ladles and stir. Continue this until risotto is creamy, about 25 minutes. Turn off heat and add cheese and roasted squash.