Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Butternut Squash Risotto

This is a recipe from Chez Panisse which is a one star restaurant in Berkeley and has been cited as one of the best restaurants in the world. I actually got this recipe not from the cookbook but on the internet: this is my adaptation of the recipe. I choose to use this recipe because it was only one I could find that didn't use a puree which wasn't something that I had wanted. This was actually my first time making risotto and it does take a lot of time stirring but it isn't all too hard.
Risotto reminds me of that moment on "Top Chef" when Tom yells at Howie for making his risotto wrong. He cites the problems as it being too heavy for it should flow on the plate and he added cream which is wrong. While Tom is correct on the cream aspect as risotto should be creamy from the starch in the rice he is wrong about the flowing-ness of risotto. I read through Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" and she states that there are 2 types of risotto: the tight and stickier style of Piedmont and the flowing runny style called all'onda. I opted to make my risotto wavy and flowing with the final addition of a ladle full of stock before plating. You can't really see it in the picture as I used a small platter to hold it but it did flow.

Chez Panisse Butternut Squash Risotto
--feed about 8 people
2 cups of Abrorio rice (or similar rice such as Vialone Nano or Carnaroli)
7-8 cups of chicken broth (I used TJ's broth concentrate)
1 medium onion (diced finely)
Fresh Sage (I used one of those herb boxes you buy all herbs in)
1/2 a large butternut squash (mine was about 2 pounds)
1/2 cup of parmigianno-reggiano
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup of white wine (I used Savignon Blanc- 2 buck chuck)

Cut the butternut squash into small cubes (mine were about 1/8 in to 1/4 inch in size.) Add to a pot with 1 cup of chicken stock, about 10 sage leaves, and salt and pepper. Bring it up to boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. When it is done it should still retain its shape but when a piece is pressed against the side of the pot it should mash. Drain and reserve the stock and discard the sage leaves. Heat the stock up over medium heat at this point and when it reaches a simmer turn it to low. Mince 6 sage leaves and cook in 3 tblsp of butter over medium low heat for about a minute. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the rice (don't wash the rice) and some salt and pepper to taste and cook stirring until the rice looks like milk glass, which is when the outside of the grain is translucent and the center is white in the middle (takes about 5 minutes.) Turn the heat up to high and add the wine stirring until the wine is absorbed completely. Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle full of stock and stir until the rice has absorbed all the stock (you can check by running your spatula down the center of the risotto and if you see any liquid pouring towards the center before the the rice, cook a bit longer.) Repeat this process for about 20-30 minutes until the rice is al dente, a stage where the rice isn't crunchy but there is a slight chew in the center. You may not use all the stock or you may need more but start checking your rice at 20 minutes.
While you are cooking rice heat up about 3 tblsp of butter over medium heat in a pan and add about 10 sage leaves in a single layer and fry, stirring, until crisp: their edges will curl up and it will darken in color: remove from butter and reserve.
When the rice is done add the remaining butter, then the squash and cheese and fold until incorporated. Cook for about 3-5 minutes more at this point; if you want a looser consistency add another ladle full of stock at this point. Serve this immediately (it can't sit out too long or it will get gummy) top it off with the fried sage leaves and shaving of parmesan.

Note: Marcella recommend that you water down your stock and if your stock is strong in flavor I do recommend this as it may overpower the flavor of your rice. So if you don't have enough stock just dilute it with water until you get the amount you need.

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