People usually think of risotto as a fancy restaurant dish but it’s easy to make at home and a great dish to have in your repertoire. The only special thing you need to buy is the rice - either Arborio or Carnaroli, which are Italian, short grained rice varieties. It takes less than 30 minutes and you can use any ingredient you like to "star" in it. This is a butternut squash and sage risotto. Other favorites include mushroom; peas, prosciutto and asparagus; lobster with tarragon; or just plain cheese (my kids love this and call it "cheesey rice." You can make it vegetarian, seafood, meaty, vegan... you can load it up with butter and cheese or just use olive oil. It's completely versatile. The technique is basically the same - you sweat aromatics in olive oil, add rice and "toast" it for a few minues, add some wine, wait till it is absorbed, then slowly ladle in stock until the rice is cooked. Towards the end, add your highlighted ingredient (either already cooked, or cook it in the pot if it's fast cooking, like peas.) Stir the risotto fairly often because that will help release the starch from the rice, giving you that creamy texture you're looking for. If you have questions about different ingredients ask me in the comments!
2-3 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes
6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/2 onion or 2 shallots, cut into 1/4" dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
Roast butternut squash with a few tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped sage on an oiled sheet pan at 400 for about 20 minutes (until easily pierced with a knife.) Set aside and keep warm.
Put stock in a pot and bring to barely a simmer.
Heat a separate, larger pot, and add a couple tablespoons olive oil, the onion or shallot, garlic, 1 tsp salt, a little pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally.
Once the onion/shallot is translucent, add the rice and stir. Let it “toast” about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add white wine, stir and cook until all the wine is absorbed.
Once all the liquid is absorbed, start ladling in the warm stock, a half cup at a time, stirring frequently. Don’t add more until most of the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir. You should be adding liquid every 2-3 minutes for about 18-25 minutes.
At 15 minutes, taste the risotto for doneness. It should be just on the softer side of al dente and the consistency of porridge. If you run low on stock, add a little water to your stock pot.
Once the risotto is cooked, stir in the squash, a couple tablespoons butter, and a big handful of grated Parmesean. Add salt/pepper if needed. I garnished with fried sage leaves but you can keep it simple and just grate more parmesean on.