Nov 29, 2008

Acorn Squash Risotto

Risotto – technically a Northern Italian specialty hovered over by wrinkly brown-skinned grandmothers wielding wooden spoons, throwing pinches of this and dashes of that like fairy godmothers with pixie dust –has been whole-heartedly adopted by the British. In 1885, The Pall Mall Gazette mentioned “a useful description of how to cook risotto, a delightful dish too rarely seen in England,” and evidently the craze took off from there. Now Risotto is on every menu, and done extremely well, though I do suspect the dairy-crazed Brits of adding cream to their recipes where none is needed. They add cream to everything…

Acorn Squash Risotto
Serves 3

3 cups chicken stock
1 Tb olive oil
1 Tb butter
1 large shallot
1 winter squash, scooped out and cubed
2 garlic cloves
¾ cup Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
Pinch of nutmeg
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp Fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
2 sprigs thyme
Fresh ground pepper

1. Have the stock simmering on low heat in a saucepan.
2. Pierce the skin of the acorn squash with a knife and microwave for 6 minutes – this should cook it completely
3. Heat the oil or butter over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick
frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion begins
to soften, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the Arborio Rice and stir until it changes to a golden color – don’t burn!
5. Stir in the wine and stir constantly until the wine is absorbed. Then add a ladleful of the simmering stock and stir.
6. When the first ladleful of stock is absorbed, add another and keep stirring. Repeat until all the stock is gone, one ladle at a time. This process can take around 25-30 minutes. You don’t *actually* have to stir continuously for the entire time, but stir often and keep the heat on medium low.
7. Cut the cooked acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and peel off the skin as much as possible (watch out for your fingers, because it’s probably still hot). Chop the squash into square-ish chunks and set aside.
8. Taste the risotto to see if it’s cooked through – it should be chewy, but not hard in the middle. If it’s done, then stir in the parmesan, fresh ground pepper, nutmeg, parsley, sage and thyme leaves.
9. Add the squash, stir, and when everything is piping hot together, serve.

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