08.26.11_Butternut Squash Risotto

Similar to gnocchi, risotto is another one of those foods that has always scared me a bit to try. My avid Food Network watching has taught me it can easily come out wrong and after seeing Wolfgang Puck pull Jyll, a contest on Food Network Star back into the kitchen to show her how a risotto was properly made, I was skeptical to say the least. Since my audience was a little less daunting than Wolfgang Puck, I decided to give it a try. I found a Rachael Ray recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto and figured that her recipes are always super easy so this would be a good one to try. After reading over the recipe I decided I did not want to use the frozen butternut squash that it called for. While I'm sure it would be delicious, one of my biggest issues this month was consistency of food and everything being mushy. I thought about pureed butternut squash in the risotto and it immediately turned me off. I decided I would use fresh butternut squash instead and bump it up a little.

The hardest part of this dish was peeling the butternut squash. As I said while peeling the eggplant for the eggplant meatballs, my vegetable peeler is far from up to the task for something like a squash, so I just used a paring knife instead. It took a while just because I wanted to go slowly and not end up cutting myself. After peeling the squash, I cut it in half, took out the seeds, and then diced it up into small cubes. I tossed it with olive oil, S&P, and then put it in the oven for 25 minutes at 400 degrees per Ina Garten's suggestion.
While the squash was roasting, I made the risotto. Rachael's recipe was, as expected, easy to follow and straight forward. After cooking the onion and garlic for a few minutes, I toasted the arborio rice then added the cup of wine. After the wine completely cooked off, I added a few ladle-fulls of the stock and water mixture. I usually did three ladles each time. Other than having to be patient this was honestly one of the easiest dishes I've made this month. I was worried that my pan was not going to be big enough since I do not own a deep-sided skillet like Ray Ray has, so I just had to be careful at the end to stir slowly since the pan was filled to the brim. In the last couple of minutes, I added the butter, sage, and cheese before finally folding in the roasted butternut squash.

I could not get over how good this dish was, and how easy it was to make. I think I cooked it a few minutes too long since I was waiting for the garlic bread to come out of the oven, but other than that I was really impressed with how it came out. This recipe also made a ton of risotto so now we know: Rachael Ray's portion sizes: big. Giada DeLaurentiis's portion sizes: tiny.

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