Spring is on its way, but not here just yet. In my house one word is synonymous with cool weather, and that is risotto. We all have that one food that we crave on a cold Winter day. For my aunt it’s cookie dough, for my sister it’s chamomile tea. For me, nothing melts away the late Winter chill like a warm bowl of creamy mushroom risotto. It is comfort food in its simplest form. The taste, the texture, even the process consoles me after a long day. I pour myself a glass of wine, turn on my favorite music, and let my hands work while my mind wanders. Risotto doesn’t require precise measurements or specific ingredients. The rice only asks for a little consideration, that you don’t drown it in liquid all at once. Like you, it needs time to unwind and take in its surroundings.
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1” cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
- 2 ½ cups shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup shallots, finely sliced
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F
Toss the butternut squash with the 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sage, salt, and pepper. Roast on a parchment lined sheet pan for approximately 25 minutes or until tender and slightly crispy. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted add the shallots to the pot and sauté until translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they are tender and the shallots start to caramelize. Next grab your favorite bottle of dry red wine and deglaze the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the Arborio rice and cook for about 2 minutes stirring often.
Now comes the fun part. Lower the heat to medium-low, and start adding the chicken broth in small increments. Add just enough liquid to cover the rice and cook until all most all of the liquid has been absorbed, stirring frequently. Continue to add the chicken broth in small amounts, repeating the process. Once all of the chicken broth has been added. Taste it. If the risotto still has a bite to it, continue cooking adding water in small increments until the rice is soft but has a little bite in the center (Al Dente). Add salt and pepper to taste. This whole process should take 30 to 40 minutes. So be patient, and enjoy the process.