Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Whole Pot of Yummy

Happy New Year! My personal new year's resolution is to continue trying new flavors in the kitchen and to maintain my family's committment to healthy eating. I'm lucky to have a husband who will try anything and everything I put in front of him! I made this dish last night for a potluck and a few folks kindly asked for the recipe. It's a heavier dish and could be altered slightly to be a bit healthier. However, if you haven't tried butternut squash before, this recipe will win you over. I would suggest eating this dish as a side (1/2 cup serving). It's a little too rich to eat as a main entree. I did calculate the calories in this recipe. One cup of this dish is 640 calories.

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

Recipe from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
Serves 4 to 6 (as a main entree)

1 butternut squash (2 pounds) (buy it peeled, seeded and cubed if you can)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 cups chicken stock (buy low sodium)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces pancetta, diced (I prefer this as a vegetarian dish, so I leave this out)

1/2 cup minced shallots

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon saffron threads

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
If you couldn't find a squash already peeled and cut, then peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut 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.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low to simmer.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. 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. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

  • I've made this recipe many times, and it's still challenging to find the right amount of heat to cook the risotto. Ultimately, I've found that the mixture should bubble slightly, so it's more on the high side of medium-high heat. At this heat, you will need to constantly stir so you don't burn the rice, but the broth will be absorbed in less than 10 minutes (per two ladles).
  • Don't be scared when you see how expensive saffron is. A little bit goes a long way. It's the most expensive spice because it's the most difficult to harvest. It's so worth it. Believe me. It adds the beautiful orange color to this dish.

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