Risotto. If there something I love about the Italians, it is Risotto. I have made all sorts of these and seem to fall more and more in love with them! This Squash version is inspired by eatingwell.com - it delivers plenty of vitamins A and C along side it's stunning fall flavors. And even though we are headed for spring (what a nice thing to be able to say), I could eat squash in any season. The earthy mushrooms with the creamy rice bring comfort but I think they deliver it in style. Risotto, in my opinion, is simple to prepare and there's no reason to be daunted. After a few tries, I have discovered the right texture for it: lightly al dente, but not crunchy, and creamy but not gluey. Serve with a crisp white wine like a pinot grigio, and you've got yourself a nice meal!
The white wine in this risotto *could be* optional, but, I think it is that little extra something which brings it over the top. I have made it with and without, either way, the risotto received a standing "mmmmmmmmmm"!
Creamy Squash Risotto
5 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth (if you don't have reduced sodium, use 3 cups broth and 2 cups water)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 medium shallots, minced
3 cups peeled butternut squash, 1 cm pieces
2 cups shitake mushrooms (caps only, so buy more than 2 cups), sliced about 1/4 cm thin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat the broth in a saucepan, over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to keep the broth warm but not simmering.
Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep skillet. Add the shallots; cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Stir in the squash and mushrooms; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Add the thyme, salt and pepper, cook for 30 seconds.
Add the rice; stir until translucent, about 1 minute.
Add the wine and cook, stirring until almost absorbed by the rice, about 1 minute.
Stir in 1/2 cup of the hot broth at a time, cooking over gentle heat (just over low heat), stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding 1/2 cup of broth at time, stirring at all times, until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the rice is creamy and tender. This will take about 30 - 40 minutes. You may have broth left, or you may run out - if so, use hot water to finish it off.
Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.