I’m back again! I know that in the movie, it’s probably the Rosato brothers, but whenever I watch Frankie Pentangeli gripe to Michael, I always imagine him just having a real big problem with some guys who just make risotto all the time because of how trendy and popular it is. Or was I guess, it’s not 2006 any more. Or 2004. I guess I was thinking something along the lines of the “risotto wars” between Onstad and Téodor chronicled beginning here in his blog. Judging from the food trends these days (and by food trends I mean what they make on Top Chef always), maybe it would be the Ceviche brothers. What am I talking about? Anyways, tonight I made a risotto with some acorn squash.
Feel free to “ooh” and “ahh” at the kitchen counter and dining room table photos from my new apartment. These pictures, and this blog’s continuance, have been made possible by my mom’s and her brother’s (my uncle’s) generous gift of a digital camera of my very own for my birthday three weeks ago. Thanks! Anyways, to summarize what has gone down since my last post on June 18th, the new Raekwon album did come out (albeit in September), and it was better than the Blueprint 3, I still live in my amazing apartment in North Buffalo with 3 of my best friends in the entire world, we smoked a bunch of pork, it became autumn at some point, we had cable for a month, and law school is a ton of work. The past few weeks, I’ve been on a total squash and sweet potato kick, celebrating the new season and all (I am a Libra you know), so what could be more apropos than a squash risotto for my first post back? (I know there’s a fucking ton of these, but I made a pumpkin risotto two years ago that people loved and I am just dying for positive reinforcement so I decided to make something similar again).
Acorn Squash Risotto
1 acorn squash
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 small onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
While probably a little more complicated than the foods I normally make, risotto is totally easy; it just requires some attention and constant stirring. You want to start by somehow peeling your squash and chopping it into 1″ chunks. I don’t have a ton of experience here, but what I did this time was to cut the squash in half like in the photo above, then halving each half and cutting that into semicircular rings and those rings into chunks. I wish I had a paring knife, but since I didn’t I just used the sharpest part of my big chefs knife to cut the skin off. It took forever, but luckily I had some good tunes and a big cup of wine to pass the time. Start preheating your oven to somewhere near 400 F here too.
Toss the squash chunks with some olive oil (about a tablespoon(?)), salt, pepper, and some of the sage, chiffonaded like I did there, and then throw them in the oven. If you’re going to roast the seeds, then do them now too. Make sure you keep an eye on them though or some of them will burn like mine.
After the seeds are done and the squash has been roasting for a good 20 – 25 minutes or so, start heating up your chicken broth (you want to it to be at a hot simmer when you start adding it to the risotto) and warm up the rest of the olive oil in a big pan with the butter too. Add the onions and sauté until they’re translucent, then throw in your garlic and the rice. Toss this all together so the rice is coated in the fat and you can start to smell the garlic cooking and the rice starting to get a little nutty (I lack the words to better describe this, just try it and you’ll know the smell I mean).
Get ready, because you’re not going to stop stirring until the food is done. Also because the food is going to start smelling better and better until you will hardly be able to stand it. Add the white wine and stir until it’s absorbed by the rice. Then, start adding the chicken broth about 3/4 cup at a time and stir constantly until it’s absorbed. Now is probably a good time to check on the squash and pull it out if it’s done cooking (soft, but still with some structural integrity). Throw in some more sage at some point and keep adding broth as it becomes absorbed. After about a cup and a half, add half of the squash, and then keep going.
When you’ve hit about three cups of broth start tasting it pretty frequently because it will be done really soon. Stir in the cheese and the crushed red pepper, and when it tastes done to you (creamy with still a bit of bite, I mean I imagine anyone reading this will know what risotto is supposed to be), stir in the rest of the squash.
What I chose to do (because I really wanted to show off… to myself… I drank the rest of the wine that I didn’t put in the risotto) was to garnish the whole finished deal with some fried sage leaves and the roasted squash seeds. I know. I never did fry up sage leaves before though and I thought it would be nice to eat some pretty Italian rice and squash food and drink cheap Chardonnay tonight and I am not ashamed. Here is a picture of this dish in front of a large pumpkin:
The recipe makes enough to probably feed two people if that’s all they eat or four or more as accompaniment to other dishes.
NEW SECTION THAT WILL BE INCLUDED IN ALL POSTS TO COME:
Music recommendation: La Quintette du Hot Club de France (Gypsy jazz by Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grapelli)
Wine recommendation: A dry white, the same one that you cooked with
Beer recommendation: I don’t think you could go wrong with either a farmhouse saison or an Oktoberfest / Märzen. Don’t go for any “extreme” variation on either style though; you want this to speak for itself, err on the side of understatement (I sound like a tool).