Thursday, January 5, 2012

My love for sundogs (Recipe: Butternut Squash Risotto)

I love sun dogs, the atmospheric phenomenon that happens when the sun is low and ice crystals reside in whispy cirrus clouds.  At that perfect moment when the ice crystals refract the sun's rays and glint their light toward our eyes we can see a burst of color in a luminous, iridescent cloud.  It is a rarity to see in Texas-I've only seen two, one on Christmas Day in 2006 and the second, yesterday.  I had spotted them many times living in Idaho and felt yesterdays sun dog was a small Texas treasure.

When I laid my eyes upon the small cloud bursting with red, which faded to blue as it neared the sun, I was overjoyed and excited.  I grabbed my phone to try to capture its beauty, but my poor camera was too weak.  Soon after I found myself longing for a winter's drive in Idaho.

Its funny how one moment can take you back to someplace unexpected.  I was quickly reminded of a drive my husband and I took on a cold January afternoon.  We encountered a ground blizzard as we traveled into Cache Valley and had watched a rare, wet, slushy snow fall heavily to the earth during our lunch in Utah.  I was hesitant to drive home with such inclement weather but was pleasantly surprise by the beauty that rode the coattails of the snow storm.

The weather became clear and crisp.  Through the cliffs and  hillsides we spotted herds of white tailed deer.  We traveled over frozen creeks and rivers.  But best of all there were sun dogs to west and a full moon rising in the east.  A beautiful ending to the day.

I know you have probably seen a couple thousand recipes of Butternut Squash Risotto out in blogland.  I am always pleased with the warmth and creaminess of this dish.  I find it to be the perfect meal for a chilly sun dog kind of day.

Butternut Squash Risotto
6 servings
  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.    Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 1-inch cubes. Place the squash on a sheet pan and season it with salt, pepper and toss it with olive oil.  Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
3.    Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered sauce pan. Leave it on low heat to simmer. 
4.    In a heavy-bottomed pot melt the butter and saute shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
5.    Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total.
6.    Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan Cheese. Mix well and serve.


Gourmet Coffee Service said...

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Bunny said...

I have never tried risoto, I live under a rock. I'm keeping this recipe to make.

Mama Pea said...

I have never seen a recipe for butternut squash risotto. But we love risotto, and we love squash. I'm going to ask Lloyd to make this one for me! Thanks!

lloyd said...

Hello Melissa,

Good recipe. We eat risotto a fair amount. Try this with pumpkin instead of the squash and you will be pleasantly surprised. Pumpkin is fantastic when cooked like other squash. It is too bad we cannot get it other than in the fall.

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