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Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

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Serves 4.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from several recipes.

I enjoy cooking risotto more than I enjoy eating it. For this recipe I decided to ramp it up a little by adding sautéed chorizo on the side. Including butternut squash purée on the plate added a mild, sweet flavor to offset the spicy heat of the chorizo, creating a balance that worked perfectly.

Ingredients:

For the Butternut Squash Purée:
1 butternut squash, about 1½ pounds (680g), peeled and seeded, divided
Pure olive oil (not extra virgin) as needed
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Salt to taste
For the Butternut Squash Risotto:
2 to 2½ cups (475 to 590ml) chicken stock or broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or pure olive oil)
¼ large onion or 1 small (3 to 4 ounces/85 to 113g); diced
2/3 cup (5 ounces/142g) Arborio rice
Reserved butternut squash from above
¼ cup (60ml) dry white wine
¼ cup (125g) mascarpone cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces (170g) chorizo; sautéed
Optional for garnish: Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat oven to 400°F (200°C). Peel and chop the squash, discarding the seeds, into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes. Reserve 8 to 10 cubes for the risotto. Arrange the cubed squash in a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender when pierced with a fork. Allow to cool until safe to handle and then place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the nutmeg, maple syrup, black pepper, and paprika. Purée to desired smoothness. Adjust for salt and then cover and set aside. It will be warmed later.

Dice the reserved squash about the same size as the diced onion. Heat the stock in a small pan until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to barely maintain a simmer. Heat the butter (or olive oil) in a medium saucepan and add the chopped onion. Sauté over medium heat until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the rice, diced squash, wine, and about half a cup of hot stock. Reduce the heat to low and stir the rice constantly until nearly all the liquid is absorbed, then add another half cup of stock. Continue stirring and cooking until the rice is tender but al dente. Cooking time can be as long as 25 minutes and the entire 2½ cups (590ml) stock might be used. Remove from the heat and add the mascarpone cheese. Blend well. Adjust for salt and pepper.

Sauté the chorizo 3 to 4 minutes in a medium skillet, until thoroughly cooked. Reheat the purée. Plate the risotto with purée on one side and chorizo on the other side. Optional: Garnish with a little Balsamic vinegar.