Thursday, November 23, 2006

Roasted Butternut Risotto

After a few weeks of holidays and no cooking it's back to real life and not an awful lot in the house. Risotto is always a good standby - a little stock from the freezer, some rice from the cupboard, something interesting to focus the attention and the 'usually I've got some inthe fridge' combination of butter and Parmesan. I'd bought a butternut squash with not very clear intentions of what to do with it then decided I'd try roasting it with some whole cloves of garlic to make a properly autumnal dish. The result was a pan of rice the colour of a glorious tropical sunset flecked with deep green basil, its peppery tang offsetting the sweetness of the rest.

Roasted Butternut Risotto

1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 tbspns olive oil
6 unpeeled cloves garlic
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
200g/6oz arborio rice
2 tbspns butter
1 cup vermouth
1 l/1 1/2 pints stock
Freshly grated nutmeg
50g/2oz grated Parmesan
Good handful fresh basil, chopped

Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a baking dish and add the butternut. Season and roast for 50 mins - 1 hour till tender, turning occasionally. At the same time wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves in aluminium foil with a little drizzle of olive oil and roast alongside the squash.

Bring the stock to a slow simmer in a pan on top of the hob. In a large flat pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter. Gently fry the celery for a few minutes, then add the rice and stir till it glistens. Add the vermouth and stir till it is absorbed then squeeze the softened hearts of the garlic cloves into the pan. Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring till it is absorbed before adding more. When half the stock is used generously grate in some nutmeg then continue adding stock till it is all used and the rice is creamy with just a hint of 'bite' in the centre.

Mash the softened butternut and stir through till it is incorporated into the rice. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the Parmesan, cover and turn off the heat. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes then stir through the basil and serve in large bowls.

No comments: