Published September 1, 2005.
This classic Italian dish can be so sticky, starchy, and saccharine that just one bite is too much. We wanted a savory, well-balanced version that would keep us coming back for more.
Butternut squash and risotto should make a perfect culinary couple, but too often the squash and rice never become properly intertwined. The squash is reduced to overly sweet orange blobs or the whole dish becomes a gluey squash paste.
We needed to learn how to integrate the flavor of the squash with the risotto but still preserve their individual personalities--to create a creamy, orange-tinged rice fully infused with deep (but not overly sweet) squash flavor, flecked with hints of broken-down squash as well as more substantial (but still soft) cubes.
Because we already had a streamlined method for cooking risotto, we concentrated on developing the squash flavor--a process that ultimately required three different approaches. First, we diced and sautéed the squash. Next, we found that adding the squash in two stages, half with the toasted rice and half just before serving, gave us great squash flavor and preserved its delicate texture. The third step? We sautéed the flavorful squash seeds and fibers in the pan, then steeped them in chicken broth. This squashy broth was subsequently used (after straining) to cook the rice.list of recipes