Friday, February 18, 2011

Roasted Squash Risotto with Fried Sage and Brown Butter

The great thing about getting a veggie box from a CSA is that you have fresh, organic and local produce showing up each week. It's a given that we're going to find a way to eat it even if that means a little time spent "googling". The sometimes not so great thing is that you get a lot of the same depending on the season. During the winter, it's greens of all kinds and hard, winter squash. I've got a handle on the greens, but with half our family not liking squash, it's a bit harder. Peelable squash like butternut squash get roasted since that technique gives it a crunchy exterior (texture is my issue with winter squash.) Delicata and acorn varieties gets roasted in halves, pureed with butter, garlic and herbs and made into a lasagna filling. Kabocha, a squash which I had never encountered before veggie boxes, has become a warm salad favorite. (Recipe to come later.) Chef Suzanne Goin is apparently a fan since her beautiful cookbook Sunday Suppers at Lucques features several recipe using this varietal.

I developed this recipe several years ago before moving to Cali where getting veggie boxes has become a way of life.  I was simply supporting my local farmers and butternut squash was pretty much the bulk of that week's market offerings so I bought several and then had to figure out how to use them.  I had success growing sage so I had lots of it and having read several recipes using brown butter and sage along with squash ravioli, I instinctively knew this would really augment the risotto instead of the typical method of stirring in cold butter.  So the recipe began to come together as I began to cook.  Though the typical parmesan can be used as the cheesey finish, I wrote this recipe using Cave-Aged Gruyere before it was a named cheese (which drove the price way up) so now I use a well-aged Gouda (vs a young Gouda).  Either way, you're going for a very nutty, creamy cheese.


Roasted Squash Risotto with Fried Sage and Brown Butter
This recipe looks complicated. While it does have many steps, many of them can be done in minutes.  All vegetable prep can be done up to two days ahead of time.  Share stirring and a bottle of wine with a few friends.

1 (1 lb) butternut squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
1 bunch of sage
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
¾ cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup shredded gruyere or well-aged gouda cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the butternut squash.  Using a very sharp knife, cut off the stem and bottom of the squash, then divide the squash where it begins to form a bulb.  Cut the bulb in half and remove the seeds.  Cut the squash into ½ ” pieces.  Place on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and salt.  Roast for 20-30 minutes or until brown.

Pick the leaves off the sage.  Chop the largest leaves to make up 2 tablespoons of chopped sage.   Reserve the rest of the leaves for later.  Chop the onion into ¼” pieces.

Place the chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to a low simmer.  In a small saute pan set over mediume heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter with the reserved sage leaves.  When the leaves start to sizzle, reduce heat to medium low until butter has turned a deep brown.  Reduce heat further if foam begins to develop. 

In a deep sided 10” skillet or 3 quart saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  When melted, add the onion and saute until onion is wilted and starting to slightly turn golden.  Add the rice and stir to coat every grain with the oil and butter.   Continue to saute rice and onion until the rice becomes translucent and slightly golden.

Remove the skillet from heat and add white wine.  Return to medium low heat and stir continuously until the rice has absorbed the wine.  Stir in 1 cup of chicken stock and stir until the rice absorbs the stock.  Repeat this process for 10-15 minutes, then taste.  If the rice is slightly chewy, turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste.  If the rice is still a bit hard, keep adding stock and stirring until the rice reaches this al dente state.

To serve, place the risotto in either individual bowls or one large serving bowl.  Top with the roasted squash.  Carefully spoon out the crispy sage leaves reserving the browned butter.  Place the sage leaves on top of the roasted squash and risotto.  Sprinkle with the shredded cheese.  Drizzle the top with the browned butter and spoon any remaining broth around the perimeter of the risotto.

Makes 4 generous main-dish servings or 8 side dish servings.

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