Risky Risotto

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For some reason, making risotto has some people shaking in their boots.  They think it is the type of dish you have to go out and order at a restaurant.  So, I always thought I would just wait until I went to culinary school to try it out; however, I was feeling ambitious the other day.  It turns out making risotto is fool proof – to much liquid, keep cooking it; not enough liquid, just add more.  I think more than anything making it is just time consuming, not difficult. 

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Traditionally risotto is made with Arborio rice, a native Italian grain (a starchy, short grain rice) that accounts for its creamy, silky texture.  Risotto is the perfect base for a variety of dishes because it works well with an abundance of flavors from seafood to saffron (risotto Milanese).

I used Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Champagne Risotto as inspiration and a guide to make my own.  I ended up making something very similar to her Champagne Risotto but I used butternut squash and Parmesan cheese and topped it with roasted asparagus.

Creamy Champagne Risotto

Yields 6-8 servings

Ingredients

20 spears of asparagus (washed, ends trimmed)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

1/4 of a medium butternut squash (peeled, boiled and mashed)

2 Tablespoons of butter

1 medium shallot

1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice

1 1/2 cups of Champagne (I used a sparkling wine)

3 cups of low/no-sodium vegetable stock (you could also use chicken)

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese (plus additional for topping)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350º.

Place washed and trimmed spears of asparagus on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Bake until caramelized and tender, about 30 minutes.

In a medium sauce pan boil butternut squash until tender.  Then mash and set aside.

In another medium saucepan or skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat in the butter. Continue toasting the rice, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more. Add the Champagne and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.

Fold in the mashed butternut squash and Parmesan cheese.

Remove from the heat. Spoon into bowls and top with asparagus and additional Parmesan cheese.

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You can serve this as a side dish; however, it also makes an excellent, filling vegetarian meal.

Sources:
"Champagne Risotto." Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Recipes : Food Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2013.
“The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition) [Hardcover].” The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion (Deluxe Edition): Sharon Tyler Herbst, Ron Herbst: 9780764162411: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. (373)