Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CSA week two - Roasted butternut squash, sage and brown butter risotto

This recipe was inspired by a pasta with butternut squash and brown butter recipe from A Good Appetite--a resource you definitely should check out for ideas for using non-Miami-specific CSA items. Kat has been cooking and posting her Minneapolis CSA all summer long so there's big backlog of interesting recipes to try out.

I decided to switch from a pasta to a risotto just to keep things interesting and roasted the squash to boost the flavors a bit. Those two impulses worked against each other actually so you may as well just pan fry the squash if you want to make this dish.

I also cut the recipe down to one big serving since risotto is no good unless it's fresh off the stove. It'll serve two if you have a salad with it I think.

I also did some research on tips to improve risotto that I'm including in the procedure since they seemed to work out.

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth (that's just under one can conveniently)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup shallot, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 Tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper and fresh grated nutmeg to taste

0. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Toss the butternut squash cubes with a little olive oil and salt and roast in a single layer in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until just barely turning tender and brown. [That may be under 15 minutes for you. My pan doesn't quite fit in my oven so my oven door was ajar which I think slowed the cooking down. You want the butternut squash half-cooked so you can add it to the risotto later which kind of defeats the purpose of roasting because all the good stuff happens in the second half of cooking which you're not doing.]

2. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium high heat until shimmery. Add the shallot and sage and cook until the shallot is translucent and slightly browned. Remove leaving as much of the oil as you can.

3. Add more oil if necessary and add rice. Cook for seven to ten minutes, stirring frequently. The rice will turn translucent pretty quickly. Cook it until it turns opaque again and starts smelling nutty. [This bit is controversial. Many recipes say just to cook for two or three minutes to get to the translucent stage. The longer cooking time gave me a fluffier result, but the texture is kind of a puffed-rice sort of fluffy so I don't know if that's an ideal result. On the other hand, when I only cook the rice for a few minutes I find that it usually ends up a little crunchy in the middle which is no improvement.]

4. Heat up your wine in the microwave or on the stove. Once that's warm, heat up the stock too. Keep that hot as you go along.

5. When you're happy with the rice add the wine and turn down the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring often (which is not as often as frequently), until the wine is completely evaporated.

6. Add the shallot and sage back into the pan along with a couple ladles of stock. Cook, stirring not quite so often unless you really want to, until the stock is nearly evaporated. You might want to turn down the heat too.

7. Add more stock and cook some more. When the rice is about half done and the stock about half gone stir in the squash. This might also be a good time to add some salt and pepper.

8. Meanwhile, in a small pan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook until it is nicely browned.

9. Keep adding stock and cooking until the rice is where you want it or you run out of stock. And decide how wet you'd prefer your final results. When everything is pretty close to the way you want it, take the pot off the heat, stir in the brown butter, goat cheese (I used goat cheese with a mixed pepper coating for a bit of extra interest), parsley and some more sage wouldn't be a bad idea. Cover and let rest for three minutes. Uncover, check for seasoning and add the nutmeg. Don't neglect the nutmeg, it's surprisingly important in making the other flavors pop.

And if you did everything right they should be popping all over the place. You probably already know that butternut squash, brown butter and sage are a great flavor combination so I'll just say that a nicely creamy risotto is a fine delivery mechanism for those flavors. Oh, I forgot to add some of the leftover crab! I just did a quick taste test with the last bite of risotto and crab is just fabulous with the squash and sage. What wasted potential! OK, I've got another squash left. Maybe a squash/sage/brown butter/crab quiche?

1 comment:

kat said...

Thanks for the shout out. I love butternut squash in risotto, actually I love just about any vegetable in risotto!