Sunday, November 13, 2011

Caramelized Butternut Squash Risotto

Anybody else out there cook for a picky eater?

I don't know if picky is the right word, but my husband can definitely be challenging to please. A carnivore through and through, every meal must include meat. Questions are raised if bread isn't included. Comments will be made if there is too much pepper or anything slightly spicy.

He eats just about anything I put in front of him and when he likes something I've cooked he is generous with the praise. When he doesn't like it, he tries not to say anything but I know him too well. I don't spoil him and cook what I want, but I part of the enjoyment of cooking is watching my family enjoy what I have prepared. So I often try and schedule recipes I want to try but know he will not like for when he is not home.

Like Caramelized Butternut Squash Risotto. The hubs would have loved the caramelized butternut squash but he doesn't like risotto (I don't even know how that is possible) and he would have been looking for a piece of meat. So this became a light dinner for my best friend Amy and I to enjoy with a lovely glass of wine. Okay, two glasses of wine.

I've used Ina Garten's Easy Parmesan "Risotto" recipe a couple of times and LOVE it. I'm sure Italians and food purists would find the idea of cooking risotto in the oven offensive, maybe even sacrilegious. But I'm here to tell you it is pure genius. The rice is cooked perfectly in the oven and a luscious, creamy texture is achieved by adding in a bit more stock, wine, and Parmesan cheese at the end and stirring it vigorously for a couple of minutes. The end result is near perfect risotto without all of the babysitting.

As delicious as the risotto is with just Parmesan, it is a blank palette for whatever you choose. I chose to make another Barefoot Contessa recipe, Caramelized Butternut Squash.

This was my first time preparing butternut squash and my first time eating it in any form other than soup. I loved it and have a new favorite Fall squash (sorry, pumpkin). I followed Ina's classic technique for roasting veggies and sprinkled on a teeny bit of brown sugar. I over-caramelized the squash and it was still delicious. Slightly crisp on the exterior and creamy on the interior, its sweetness was the perfect counterpoint to the richness of the risotto.

A beautiful main course, it would be a great accompaniment to any protein as well. While I don't think he would have loved this risotto, I think my picky husband would have at not hated it, as long as it was hidden under a big slab of meat.

Caramelized Butternut Squash Risotto
slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That & The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, Ina Garten

For the squash:
1 medium butternut squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the risotto:
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off and discard the ends of the squash. Peel the squash and cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds. Cut the squash into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Toss all the ingredients together and spread on a single layer. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize. While roasting, turn the squash a few times with a spatula, to be sure it browns evenly.

Set aside while you prepare the rice.

Prepare the rice. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice al dente. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes until the rice is thick and creamy. Stir in the butternut squash and serve hot.

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  1. I totally have one of those and it drives me absolutely batty some days...
    Squash in risotto is a beautiful combination - I like the extra step of caramelizing it here.

  2. That looks amazing! Thanks for the comment on my blog. It's always fun to find another blogger right in my own backyard!

  3. I love butternut squash risotto, this looks amazing! My husband is super picky too, but he's actually gotten a tiny bit better over the year.

  4. I'm a sucker for a good risotto AND butternut squash so this recipe sounds fabulous!


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