One day, my friend Sydney asked me if I wanted to go to the Nutcracker with her for her birthday. We ate at the restaurant at the Kennedy Center. I ordered a Butternut Squash Risotto; it was wonderful.
Ever since then, I have been wanting to try to cook risotto myself. Today we are snowed in, and school was canceled for the whole week. So my mom thought that it was a perfect opportunity to finally try it out.
I think the most fun part was frying the rice with the butter and onion. It made a little sizzling noise and smelled really great.
You have to keep tasting the risotto to figure out when the rice is done. It's done when the rice is soft but still a little chewy. Even after the rice was cooked, I kept pretending I needed to taste it because I loved it so much and couldn't wait for lunch.
This is the risotto in the very end when you add the butter and cheese:
The basic recipe comes from Fanny at Chez Panisse by Alice Waters. It's a very good cookbook. Our friend Annie's cousin Ann Arnold did the illustrations:
Butternut Squash Risotto, adapted from Fanny at Chez Panisse
4 cups vegetable broth
1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2" cubes
1 small onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leave
Three sage leaves chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine, optional
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat 3 cups of vegetable broth until boiling. Bring the remaining 1 cup of broth to a boil and cook the butternut squash for ten minutes, until soft. Drain and keep the liquid for the risotto.
Peel and chop the onion finely. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the bay leaf, sage, and a few pinches of salt. Cook for fine minutes until the onion softens.
Add the rice and cook five minutes, stirring often. Add the wine and cook over low heat until it's absorbed. Then add the broth half a cup at a time and stir until all the broth is absorbed. This takes around twenty minutes or maybe even half an hour.
At the end, when the rice is tender but still a little chewy, add the cooked squash, 1 more tablespoon of butter, and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Cook for a few more minutes, remove the bay leaf, and then serve right away with parmesan and black pepper.