Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, from Italy!?! - Winter Squash Risotto

When someone mentions winter squash, I will be the first to admit, Italy is the furthest thing from my mind.  Let's face it; I have been conditioned to respond with, "MMMMMM, Pie".  Especially around the Thanksgiving season.  But American cooks are not the only ones who prepare this New World vegetable.  Oh no.  In fact, there is a traditional Risotto recipe from Lombardy (Italy) that is centered around winter squash.  Which makes me VERY happy, because I love all things risotto anyway.

OK, I will admit that I am not making this in the traditional way.  I am using some turkey stock instead of the traditional vegetable stock of Onions, Carrots, Celery and Leeks.  I did add part of a Leek to the Turkey Stock while it simmered though.  So I guess this is Pseudo-Traditional.  ;)

I chose Red Kuri squash because it has a chestnut like flavor (very northern Italian) and is only mildly sweet.  Most importantly though, is that it's a dryer squash.  This means that it will hold it's shape better while cooking.  Kobacha or Hubbard would be another great choice if you cannot find a Kuri or any of the actual Italian varieties like Berettina Piacentina or Zucca Blu.

I went with the traditional Grana Padano from Lombardy as opposed to Parmigiano-Reggiano from Emilia-Romagna.  I think its flavor pairs a little more smoothly with the squash.  A touch of Chervil rounds the flavors out nicely, but it's not an absolute necessity.

Risotto con Zucca

12 oz Kuri Squash
3 1/2 - 4 cups Turkey Stock
2 inches of Leek, split
4 TB Butter (divided)
1 Shallot Minced
1 1/4 cups Arborio Rice
1/2 cup Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
1/3 cup Grana Padano, grated
1 TB Creme Fraiche or Mascarpone
optional - Dried Chervil

First you must dissect your squash.

Slice it in half. (Unlike Butternut squash, Kuri has less meat and more seeds)

Scoop out the seeds (being a dryer squash, the seed come out fairly easily in one large lump)

I usually quarter the squash, simply because it makes peeling a little easier. (12 oz is about 1/2 of a Kuri squash)

Peel and slice the squash into fairly thin slices.

Then cut the slices into little "elongated cubes" (the smaller you dice the squash the faster it will cook)

Begin heating the Turkey Stock with a split Leek in a small saucepan.

Melt 2 TB Butter in a separate saute pan.

Add Squash and Shallot, sauteing until the shallot is translucent. (Yes, it looks like a lot of squash, but the rice swells, it will be OK)

Add Rice and saute until it smells nutty.

Pour in the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed.

Begin adding the Turkey Stock, one ladle-ful at a time, stirring until each addition has been absorbed before adding the next.

Once the rice is al dente, remove from the heat and add the remaining 2 TB of Butter, Grana Padano and Creme Fraiche.

Cover with a towel and allow to set for 3-5 minutes.

If you like, and I DO like, hit it with a little dried Chervil before serving (I cannot find fresh Chervil at this time of year)

Then dish yourself up a huge helping and enjoy not only a taste of Italy, but a taste of Thanksgiving as well.



Patti T. said...

What a wonderful fall dish. I love that you sauteed the rice until it smelled nutty. Had to make it even more delicious. I think I asked before, but could you be my neighbor, you know, the one who likes to share his great food with one who would truly appreciate it??

Shane T. Wingerd said...

I would totally be your neighbor Patti... :)

DJA said...

This looks delightful. I have just dissected a large Hubbard and have been looking for suitable recipes--this may be a winner.