Risotto is such a wonderful comfort food and can be fun to prepare in front of dinner guests – they’ll keep you company by chattering away in the kitchen over a glass of prosecco while you’re stirring for about 20 minutes, wine in hand.
Because risotto should be served immediately, have the bowls warming in the oven and everything else prepared and ready to go.
Vegetarians can substitute the chicken broth with vegetable and you’ll probably want some extra freshly grated Parmesan to pass around.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO with CRISPY SAGE
1 ½ lbs (600g) of butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into very small pieces
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 ¼ oz (90g) butter, plus an extra ounce (30g)
6 sage leaves – keep 4 for frying
1 garlic clove, slightly crushed
1 large shallot, finely chopped
10 ½ oz (300g) of Arborio rice (unwashed)
1 ¾ pints (1 liter) of chicken or vegetable stock
1 ¾ oz (50g) of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a pan, heat the oil and about a third of the butter, then add 2 sage leaves, the garlic clove and butternut squash. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the pumpkin softens and falls apart. Discard the garlic and sage leaves and set it aside. You can do up to here ahead of time.
Bring the chicken or vegetable broth to a very low simmer in a separate pan and keep it hot over the lowest heat possible.
In a separate large saute pan, heat half of the remaining butter and saute the shallot over a low heat until it’s translucent and soft, then add the rice and give a good stir and continue to stir for a couple of minutes until the rice is well coated with butter. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste.
Add about half a cup of hot stock to the rice, stir well then add the butternut squash.
Add more hot stock a little at a time, until it’s all used up and has been absorbed by the rice (keep some extra stock available on the side and ready to heat up in case you need to add more than this) – stir every minute or so between additions.
Meanwhile, fry the sage: heat the extra 1 oz (30g) of butter in a small pan until it’s foaming then drop in the sage leaves. Fry them for about 20 seconds until they’re crisp then transfer then to a paper towel to drain.
Once the rice is ‘al dente’ and all the stock has been absorbed, adjust the seasoning, turn off the heat and quickly stir in the remaining butter and the grated Parmesan.
Serve the risotto in warmed individual bowls, each topped with a sage leaf.