By Kim Dannies
Feeling ready for a meatless main dish? In the aftermath of the turkey trot and before the roast beef rolls in, I sure am. Consider risotto, the Arborio rice specialty, for a meal that is easy on the eye and the budget. This recipe, adapted from the Dec. 2010 issue of Bon Appétit, is just the ticket for winding down between holidays.
Traditional risotto requires a labor-love intensive technique that results in toothsome grains of rice swimming in a super creamy sauce. It is created by stirring hot stock into a mixture of rice and onion that has been sautéed in butter or olive oil. The stock is added slowly, and the mixture is stirred gently and consistently until all of the stock has been absorbed into the rice. Like pizza, the range of flavors and ingredients that complement risotto is unlimited, so feel free to improvise. When I make risotto, I pick a quiet evening, put on my jammies, pour a glass of wine, grab my wooden spoon and enjoy this quiet, delicious process.
Bon Appétit Butternut Risotto
Purchase pre-cut butternut squash and cut pieces into half-inch cubes to equal 4 cups. Dice enough sweet onion to equal 3 cups. Measure out 2 cups of Arborio rice. Purchase four 14-ounce containers of vegetable stock. Ribbon cut a bunch of fresh basil to make 1 cup. Grate 1 cup best-quality Parmesan cheese.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add the squash and sauté until it begins to soften and brown around the edges, 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium; add 1 tablespoon butter and the onion to the pot and cook 5 minutes until tender but not browned. Add rice and stir 1 minute. Add 1 cup of broth and simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently, 3-4 minutes.
Add remaining broth by the 1/2 cup, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, gently stirring all the while, about 15 minutes. Return squash to the pot; continue to cook until rice is tender and creamy, about 10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and fresh pepper. Remove pot from heat and fold in basil and cheese. Serves six immediately.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.