Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Butternut Squash Risotto

Since I joined Barefoot bloggers halfway through the month I figure I only have to do one recipe this month. Normally I suppose I should do the second recipe which is Vegetable Pot Pie. While the recipe sounded good, I just made Chicken Pot Pies. Hopefully it is OK if I make the first October recipe instead.

This is a night of firsts for me. This is my first barefoot bloggers recipe. This is my first time making risotto. This is my first time cooking with saffron.

I had always thought that risotto was a little difficult to make. It is not really that difficult. A risotto is just a short grain rice (normally Arborio) that is cooked slowly. You add a little liquid and cook until it is absorbed, then add a little more liquid and cook a little more, repeat...

I noticed a lot of the other Barefoot bloggers skipped the saffron. There is good reason for that. Saffron costs about $10 for 1/2 gram. It comes in a spice bottle - inside the bottle is a little envelope - inside the little envelope is a littler envelope - inside that is a small amount of the red threads which are saffron. It takes an acre of flowers ( a crocus) to harvest 5-7 pounds of saffron. Saffron is the most expensive spice by weight - but I have read that is is not the most expensive by use since it takes such a small amount. Anyway, saffron was on sale at Target this week. It still cost me $11 but I got 1.5 grams of it - now I need more recipes for it - if you have any good ones let me know.

It is a good time of year for this recipe. It uses butternut squash which is plentiful in the fall. You dice up the squash and roast it in the oven. It turns nice and brown on the edges and looks very nice in the rice. I would not have thought of adding squash to a risotto but it added a little bulk to the rice that was nice - I would have been satisfied with this as my main dish.

I wish I had made one without the saffron so I could compare and see if it was worth it. I am sure it would be great without the saffron but in my opinion the saffron probably made it better. Saffron has kind of a fragrant flavor. My wife said it took some getting used to but she ate seconds so I guess it was not too bad for her.

Thanks to Rachel from Rachel Like to Cook for this recipe.

Butternut Squash Risotto
(Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style)

  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
  3. Heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned.
  5. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total.
  6. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.


Anonymous said...

You made a good choice in making the risotto over the vegetable pot pies. The pot pies were good. but the risotto was way better and is, as you said, perfect for the season. Yours looks delicious!

webbie said...

I loved this recipe! It was my first risotto also and I know this is something I will make again.

Welcome to the Barefoot Bloggers.

PS--my pot pie was a disaster (my fault!)

Eri-chan said...

Welcome to the Barefoot Bloggers :)

I agree with Matt, the pot pie was good but the risotto was amazing, so I think you made the right choice. Plus its always good to try something new!