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Alfred's Winter-Squash Risotto

Alfred Portale makes this spice- and herb-perfumed risotto at his Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City. At his restaurant, he uses double turkey stock in the risotto, but enriched chicken stock can be substituted.

  • Servings: 6

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 1999

Ingredients

FOR THE ROASTED-GARLIC PUREE:

  • 20 large cloves garlic, unpeeled, preferably fresh heads that are firm and have no sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

FOR THE SPICED BUTTER:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons Roasted-Garlic Puree
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chervil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

FOR THE CARAMELIZED SQUASH:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large (2 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar

FOR THE RISOTTO:

  • 2 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock Homemade Chicken Stock, or low-sodium canned
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces slab bacon, preferably maple-smoked, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup minced shallots or onions
  • 1 pound Italian rice, preferably Vialone Nano or Arborio
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. To make the roasted-garlic puree: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the garlic in a small baking dish, and toss with the oil and 1 tablespoon water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil; bake until the garlic is tender (squeeze one of the cloves to check), 25 to 35 minutes. Press garlic out of its skin into a bowl; mash with a fork. Set aside until ready to use.

  2. To make the spiced butter: Combine the butter, chervil, marjoram, cinnamon, ginger, and reserved garlic puree in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Cover, and set aside at room temperature until ready to use. (You can prepare the butter up to 8 hours in advance, and store, refrigerated, in an airtight container.)

  3. To make the caramelized squash: In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Place the squash in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add squash to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6 minutes. Cover; cook until tender, about 5 minutes more.

  4. Add the brown sugar; cook until squash has caramelized but still holds its shape, about 2 minutes. Set aside. (You may prepare the squash up to 1 hour in advance, and store, covered, at room temperature.)

  5. To prepare the risotto: In a large saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

  6. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add bacon, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add shallots, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes more.

  7. Reduce the heat to medium low. Stir in the rice, sage, and thyme. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the rice is coated, has released its starch, turns a milky opaque white, and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, 7 to 10 minutes.

  8. Add the wine, and boil until completely reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle about 1 cup of the simmering stock into the rice. Cook, stirring often, until the stock has almost been completely absorbed by the rice.

  9. Continue cooking and stirring, adding another 1 cup stock only when the previous addition has been absorbed. After 15 minutes, begin tasting the rice. At this point, add the remaining stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions, until the rice is firm yet cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes.

  10. Stir in the reserved spiced butter and the parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Gently fold in the reserved caramelized squash, keeping the individual pieces as intact as possible. Divide the risotto among warm bowls, and serve immediately.

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