With a few simple tips, you can make authentic, perfectly cooked risotto at home. This recipe for saffron and butternut squash risotto – a modern take on traditional risotto Milanese – will keep you coming back for more.
Risotto, a classic Italian dish made with Arborio rice, is elegant, impressive and – even better – incredibly easy to make at home. Just keep a few things in mind and you’ll be producing restaurant quality risotto in no time. And once you master the basic risotto recipe, you can make any kind of risotto your heart desires. Mushroom and sausage? Arugula and Parmesan? The sky’s the limit!
To make risotto, you first saute shallots or onions in butter, and then add the dry Arborio rice to lightly toast it. Broth is then added incrementally, a ladleful at a time, until it is fully absorbed. It is important that the broth is hot, which ensures that the risotto cooks quickly and evenly. It is also important that more broth is added only once it has been fully absorbed. With these simple tips, you’ll be turning out perfectly fluffy risotto in no time.
Saffron and butternut squash risotto recipe
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 pounds butternut squash (1 large), peeled, seeds removed, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup finely chopped onion or shallot
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup shredded chicken or turkey breast (optional)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the squash in a pan and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring the stock to a simmer in a small saucepan. Leave it on low heat.
- Soak the saffron in a tablespoon or two of hot stock and allow to infuse.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt four tablespoons of the butter and saute the onions on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not browned.
- Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter.
- Add the wine and cook for two minutes.
- Add two full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, and season with salt and pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, five to 10 minutes.
- Continue to add the stock, two ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until absorbed; then add more stock.
- Continue until the rice and barley are cooked through, but still al dente, 30 to 40 minutes total. Add the roasted squash cubes and chicken, if using, and stir to combine.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and remaining two tablespoons butter. Mix well and serve.