Friday, October 30, 2009

Recipe: Fall in a Bowl- Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

Let me get this out of the way: Parmigiano Reggiano is my second favorite cheese (any kind of blue cheese is my first). Also, you should know I *love* cheese in a very unhealthy way. So, add these together and you get a person that really, really, really likes parm. A lot.

That said, I don't think this risotto needs Parmesan at all. Blasphemy, I know, risotto is supposed to have parm. Whatever. This dish is like a bowlful of fall and I think the pungentness of the parm would just get in the way. If you happen to be watching your waistline, this is a great seasonal recipe. It's creamy and the scant amount of bacon (works out to less than a slice per person & no other fat is used) gives it a deep, luxurious taste. And, the butternut squash almost doubles the volume of the recipe limiting the amount of carbs. Save the calories you would have spent on the cheese and indulge in a piece or two of Halloween candy. :P

This would serve 4 for lunch with side salad. Or 2 for dinner.

1 butternut squash, halved and seeds scooped out
3 slices of your favorite bacon, diced (cut off the large areas of fat if you like)
1 small onion, diced
1 c arborio rice (you can get it at Trader Joe's)
1/2 c light, crisp beer (I used Yuengling. You could also use white wine)
2 c chicken stock
20 sage leaves, chopped and divided
parm, if you must

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Place butternut squash halves face down on a roasting pan. Add a bit of water and cover. Cook for 25 minutes or until squash is very tender.
2. Meanwhile...Put the bacon in a saucepan and brown. When half-way done, add onions and half of the sage.
3. Heat the stock in another pan on medium-low. You'll need to have a constant supply of warm stock so that you don't cool down the risotto when you add it.
4. When onions are translucent, add the rice and toss in the bacon drippings. Let "toast" for about a minute.
5. Add beer, stir and let evaporate. When the pan is almost dry, add a few ladle-fulls of the warm stock. Stir occasionally until absorbed. Once absorbed, repeat adding stock, stirring, etc. until rice is done. You may need to add a bit more liquid (in the form of water) if after 2 cups your rice isn't quite done.
6. Scoop out insides from cooked squash and add into risotto using a fork to mash the larger pieces. Add in remaining sage and season with salt & pepper. Oh, and add parm if you find it absolutely necessary.

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