This long weekend has been full of cooking and baking experiments. Quite a treat after my recent propensity to stick with tried true and easy. Among the treats created were a cheesecake (recipe tomorrow I hope), some tea-infused truffles (no recipe as they weren’t quite up to par, but still not exactly a waste of chocolate) and tonight’s success, butternut squash and brown rice risotto.
I love risotto, hate making it, and am loathe to order it out due to white rice and frighteningly unknown amounts of cream. So my mission today was to create a risotto using brown rice instead, despite the extra cooking time. Just to make it challenging, I decided to create a recipe out of thin air (and quick glances at about 10 butternut squash risotto recipes on the web) and my memory.
The result earned me an extra special, “Mmmmmmmm” from Luis, so I think this one goes down as a success. Here’s what I did:
Butternut Squash and Brown Rice Risotto – makes 3 main course servings
- 2 Tbs. olive oil (divided)
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ butternut squash (2 lb)
- 1 Tbs. butter
- 3 shakes chile flakes
- ½ tsp. cumin seed
- 1 cippolini onion
- 1 c. short grain brown rice
- 5 c. broth
- 14 dried sage leaves
- ½ c. white wine
- 1 Tbs. heavy cream
- ½ tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- ½ c. parmigiano reggiano
1. Cut squash in half, remove seeds and strings to a sauce pan. Add water and bouillon (if using, other wise, add broth of your choice) to sauce pan and bring to a very low simmer. (Make sure your broth is not overly salty, as it will be a very dominant seasoning.)
2. Reserve half the squash for another use. Trim and skin the remaining half and cut into 1 centimeter cubes.
3. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil (lemon infused if you have it), add garlic and fry for 30 seconds, then add squash cubes. Cook covered, over medium heat until just soft. You may wish to add a ladle-full of broth to speed the cooking process.
4. While squash is cooking, heat remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 Tbs. butter. Add cumin seeds and chile flakes and let sizzle 15-30 seconds. Add onion and cook until it is translucent. Then add the rice and cook until rice begins to whiten.
5. Add broth to cover the rice (1-3 ladles full). Cook at a brisk simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. When the squash is ready, add 1/3 of the cubes to the rice.
6. Let rice cook until it absorbs almost all the broth, then add 1-2 ladles-full until rice is just covered. Continue this way, simmering, adding broth, stirring occasionally until the rice is almost to your desired texture. Using brown rice, this may take an hour. (You do not have to stir constantly, just check every couple minutes until the rice is close to done, then stir more frequently).
7. While rice is cooking, chop thyme, lemon zest, grate cheese and prepare a salad. Fry the sage leaves in olive oil for a garnish.
8. When rice is nearly done, add wine and let cook down, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, if desired, along with reserved squash, cream, lemon zest, thyme and parmesan. Stir until the risotto reaches your desired consistency. It should be creamy and a lovely orange color with the rice still somewhat firm to the tooth. Serve and garnish with sage leaves!
Enjoy with salad, rustic bread and wine!