Risotto is that delicious thing on the menu at a fancy Italian restaurant that I consider ordering, but always end up choosing the pasta dish over it. This time I chose risotto, except I made it. I gotta say, this risotto did take time, and the way I did it, which was the way the original recipe said to do it, was more rushed than I hoped, but the product was magnificent. Towards the end I was pressed for time, seeing as I had to skin and cut the hot squash as I finished adding the liquid to the risotto while stirring. An easy fix for this problem is to cook, skin and cut the squash in advance.
For the Squash
The squash is good to do in advance because it takes time and needs to cool before handling.
1 butternut squash
1 level tablespoon coriander seeds
2 small dried chillies
freshly ground black pepper
12 slices bacon
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Put the seeds aside. Cut the squash lengthwise into ¼ inch slices.
3. Grind your coriander and chillies with a pinch of salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle. 4. Sprinkle mixture over the squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss around until completely coated.
5. Line squash compactly in a roasting tray. Mix the squash seeds, chestnuts and sage leaves with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over squash.
6. Bake for about 1 hour until the flesh and skin are soft to the touch.Once the squash has cooled down chop the squash into small pieces, not worrying that it is mushy and not holding its shape.
5 cups stock (whichever type you prefer I used chicken stock)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ head celery, finely chopped
400 g risotto rice
1 ¼ cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the stock. In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.\
2. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a few minutes, when it begins to look translucent, add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring.
3. Spread bacon on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 1o-12 minutes
4. Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and some salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, and stirring, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice throughout as you add stock. Keep adding stock until the rice is softened to your liking. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
5. When finished adding the liquid, mix in the squash and cook for about 3 minutes while stirring to heat the squash
6. Remove from the heat then… EAT now. With the bacon.