Is it still risotto if you make it with brown rice? After having read something somewhere about blood sugar spiking after eating white rice, I decided that I would experiment with making a risotto employing brown, red, black, wild or any other kind of non-white rice. Mark Bittman gives the official okay to this practice in his tome How to Cook Everything. Thanks Mark.
And it worked. Using brown rice renders it a little more like pilaf and a little less like risotto, but it works, and that’s the point. It tastes really good, rich and warming and cozy the way you want something to taste this time of year, and it’s a little better for you. I can get behind that.
An important point about risotto: you don’t need to stir it constantly! Sometimes in cooking, I like to find shortcuts. And I started doing this with risotto. And it’s still lovely every time, as long as you stir it enough, so that the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn.
Butternut Squash Risotto
2 cups roasted, pureed butternut squash or pumpkin
2 cups arborio rice (or short grain brown rice, or a brown rice blend, which I used with good results)
1 medium white onion, diced
4-5 cups chicken stock (sub vegetable stock)
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan, grated (adjust according to taste)
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
salt + pepper
For the squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half, place open side down in a glass baking dish, fill the dish with a little water, and roast until the squash is soft, about 40 minutes. It will most likely be soft enough that you don’t need to puree it. Set the two cups for the risotto aside, and freeze the remainder.
In a pot, warm the stock over low heat. You want it to be hot when adding to the rice.
Warm another, larger pot over medium-low heat. Saute the onions in the butter or oil until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the rice and the sage and rosemary and stir frequently until the rice becomes translucent around the edges, another 5 minutes or so.
Add the wine. This is where you would begin the constant stirring. Instead, stir regularly but not constantly.
When the wine has been mostly absorbed, begin adding the stock, one cup at a time. Again, continue to stir at regular intervals, but don’t be afraid to leave it alone for a bit.
If you have added four cups of stock and find that the rice is still not cooked, add the fifth cup.
When the rice is cooked, add the parmesan and blend with the rice. Next, fold in the butternut squash and walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with a few leaves of sage or rosemary, and serve.