If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it again: I’m such a huge fan of Italian food. If you’ve been to Italy before, I’m sure you’ve savoured the unbelievably fresh ingredients including the soft mozerella cheeses, dense olive-oils, rich marinara sauces, al dente egg pastas – the whole lot. It’s a food experience everyone should make time for at one point in their life.
I think a misconception some cooks might have, is that it’s easy to cook, which I don’t agree with. The best Italian food, I believe, is cooked in phases – with fresh ingredients, cautious temperatures, and lots of practice. A dish I recently have tried to perfect is risotto – one of my husband’s favorite. The other day I stumbled across a recipe incorporating it with butternut squash, and I thought it a perfect ingredient since it’s in season and everywhere…
5 slices of turkey-bacon
1 butternut squash
5 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup grated parmasean cheese
1 cup non-alcoholic cooking wine (you can use Fre at Sultan Center)
1 tablespoon of butter
First cut open and bake the butternut squash for 45 minutes or until soft. Once soft, remove the squash from the skin and mash together. Next, fry the cut-up bacon bits – then add the garlic and shallot. Allow them to sweat before adding the butter and then the rice. Make sure the rice is properly coated with all the flavors of the bacon and butter before adding the cooking wine. Once the cooking wine has evaporated, add the chicken broth only half a cup at a time – allow the broth to be fully evaporated and absorbed by the rice before adding the next half cup. This will take about 20 minutes until the broth is finished – make sure to CONSTANTLY stir, as it’s important you assist in making sure the risotto absorbs all the liquid. Once finished, add the cheese and stir. Finally, add the butternut squash and mix. Add salt and pepper generously for additional flavor.
It’s not an easy recipe since the technique and cooking it properly is so important (so as it doesn’t turn out mushy), but one worth perfecting over time. Risotto is a basic formula that can easily be modified to stage shittake mushrooms, fresh seafood, or (my next mission) a beautiful and bold saffron ingredient.
* FYI, for vegetarians, just leave out the bacon when making the recipe – it adds a bit of flavor, but surely can be made without.
Recipe, courtesy of Live, Love Pasta