Eats, Shoots & Reads

Eats #46: Mmmmm Christmassy!

Ingredients: [Butternut Squash] 1 medium butternut squash, cinnamon stick, dried red chilli, olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper. [Basic Risotto] 500ml vegetable stock, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1/2 large onion, 3 sticks celery, 300g risotto rice, 125ml dry white wine, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper. [Other] handful ameretti biscuits, 1 tablespoon mascapone cheese, fresh sage leaves, olive oil.

Difficulty: 3/5
Rating: 4/5

Grind the cinnamon stick and dried red chilli in a pestle and mortar until fine. Cut the butternut squash into quarters (removing the seeds) and rub with olive oil. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and rub in the spice mix. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes until caramelised and soft and put to one side.

In the meantime make a basic risotto. To make a basic risotto finely chop the onion and celery and gently fry in olive oil and butter until soft but not coloured. Add the risotto rice and turn up the heat, add the wine and stir until the liquid has absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time until absorbed.

When the butternut squash has cooled remove the skins and mash the squash with a fork and put to one side.

To finish the risotto add the remaining stock a ladle at a time until the risotto is cooked. Stir in the butternut squash and turn off the heat. Add the mascapone, parmesan and a knob of butter and stir until combined. Leave to rest with a lid on until it’s time to serve up.

Heat some olive oil in a pan until hot and fry the fresh sage leaves until crisp and golden – remove and allow any excess oil to drain off.

To plate up add a generous spoonful of the risotto to a plate/bowl and sprinkle crushed ameretti biscuits over the top. Place the crisp sage leaves on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese – serve!

Review

I love risotto and… even if I say so myself… I make a damn fine risotto! I’m always keen to try another risotto recipe so was very happy to draw butternut squash and ameretti risotto.

The risotto was soft, rich, creamy and the butternut squash gave the risotto a sweet and rich flavour. The chilli added the little kick needed to cut through the sweetness and the cinnamon gave it a lovely Christmassy aroma and taste.

The addition of ameretti biscuits was interesting, to say the least. The biscuits add crunch, texture and a little hit of sweetness but too much overpowered the risotto and made some mouthfuls a little sickly. Perhaps crushing the biscuits into a fine dust would reduce the heaviness of the ameretti but next time I think I’ll just skip this step.

The fried sage was tangy and had a lovely crunch but on it’s own tasted bitter. I’m not convinced it added much to the risotto so again, like the ameretti biscuits, I’d leave out this step.

Overall a really tasty risotto and something I’d definitely try again albeit with a few modifications.

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