Thursday, November 16, 2006

Squash, sage and amaretti risotto

I love butternut squash. To me, it is up there with aubergine and asparagus; it is obviously much less sexy than either of those, but it has a gentle warmth that makes it a delight to cook with - not to mention its beautiful colour and smooth flesh. I decided to make this risotto because I had mascarpone that needed using up and because I wanted an excuse to eat squash; it had rained all day and risotto seems perfect for a dark, wet November evening.

Making the risotto was easy - I don't know why I had it in my head before embarking on this project that there was anything tiresome about making it. Stirring is quite therapeutic; it gives you time to think, while you watch the grains of rice plump up and soften. While I made the standard base risotto recipe, I pounded cinnamon and dried chilli with salt and rubbed two quarters of a butternut squash (unpeeled) with olive oil, before smearing over the cinnamon and chilli mix, and roasting for 45 minutes at 200C.

Once the base risotto was made, I tried Jamie's cunning trick of spreading it over an oiled baking tray and putting it in the porch to cool down (that was nearly a disaster as I put it on the floor, assuming noone would go out there, but Simon did go out there when a pushy Talk Talk salesman rang the bell; luckily he didn't step in my risotto). Meanwhile I had some me-time - not that long, but enough time to make a difference. When I was hungry, I returned the risotto to a pan with half the remaining stock required and the squash flesh, brought it to the boil, and simmered, adding more stock gradually in the usual risotto-making way. When the rice was cooked, I turned off the heat, beat in mascarpone, butter and Parmesan, seasoned slightly, and put the lid on the pan for a minute or two while I fried sage leaves in olive oil until crispy.

The risotto was served topped with the sage leaves; I put Parmesan and crushed amaretti biscuits on the table for each of us to add as we wished.

The photo, above, doesn't do it justice; this was delicious. The amaretti biscuits added a lovely sweetish contrast; too many of those would have ruined the dish, though. Jamie suggests adding roasted chestnuts or pancetta near Christmas, which seems to me like a good excuse to make this again. Simon had read the recipe and asked if we were having the version with a twist; I said no, and clocked his disappointment. He didn't seem disappointed when he ate it though! I have to say that risotto, the meal I never remembered to make, is definitely going to become a weeknight regular in this house. I will have to take tips from Ilana's 'I love risotto' blog... There are 6 remaining risotto recipes in Cook with Jamie - I look forward to more risotto!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Power of the Risotto is strong, my girl. Succumb to it, you will.

yoda (aka, ilana)

p.s. looks flippin' fantastic!! and would still be awesome even if it had Simon's footprint in it. :)