Introduction

This is the classical mushroom risotto with the addition of one extra special element, the butternut squash. It gives sweetness and extra depth to a multilayered flavour combination. It requires some time and effort but totally worth it! It is a kind of recipe that you can get in a good restaurant. Follow these simple steps and treat yourself and the ones you love in the convenience of your home!

Materials

  • 1x butternut squash, sliced in 0.5cm half-moons
  • 250g mushrooms (chestnut or shiitake or half/half), chopped in 0.5cm slices
  • 300g arborio rice
  • 30g dried porcini, soaked in 1L of boiling water
  • 1x vegetable stock cube
  • 1x onion, roughly chopped
  • 2x garlic cloves for the mushrooms and 2x for the rice, crushed
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 175ml white wine
  • 50g Parmezan cheese, grated
  • 10-15g parsley and some extra for serving, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200oC/fan. Peel, deseed and slice the butternut squash. Coat with olive oil, season with salt and roast for 40min.

In the meantime, boil 1L of water and add it to the dried porcini in a deep bowl. Let them soak for 20min.

At the end of the 40min roasting period, take out the squash from the oven and let it cool down. Once at room temperature, transfer the squash pieces to a food processor and blend until you have a smooth paste. This might have to be done in batches (depending on how big is your processor).

At the same time, squeeze the extra water from the porcini. Keep both the flavoured water and the mushrooms. In the porcini water, add a vegetable stock cube, mix to dissolve and set aside. Slice roughly the strained porcini and set aside.

In a frying pan, add 30g of butter (half the amount) and 1x tablespoon of olive oil in a medium-high heat (7 out of 9). When it reaches temperature, add the crushed garlic and fry for a minute. Then add the mushrooms plus the sliced porcini. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 10min until nice and golden. Top with chopped parsley and set aside.

In an another deep pan, add 1x tablespoon of olive oil and 30g of butter (the rest) in medium-low heat (6 out of 9). Add the sliced onion and cook for about 8min. Then add the garlic and fry for another 2min. Add the arborio rice and increase the heat to medium-high (7 out of 9). Fry the rice for about 3-4min until translucent and when it starts getting slightly toasted, add the wine and cook while stirring continuously for about a minute until all the liquid is absorbed and the alcohol evaporated.

Now is the time to start adding the porcini water (with the vegetable stock cube) in the rice. Add a small amount (approx. a ladleful) while stirring continuously until is absorbed. Only add more water (a ladle each time) when the previous has absorbed first. You will have to stir all the time from now on until you are done cooking (sorry!). On a medium-high heat (7 out of 9) it will take about 20-22min for the rice to cook and you will need to add an extra 200ml of water (again add one ladle a time!). Try your rice before you decide to end the cooking. The rice shouldn’t be neither crunchy or mushy, but rather tender and firm to the bite.

You have to stir constantly for about 20min! It is essential for a creamy texture, as this helps the starch to come out of the rice!

When the rice is cooked, add the squash purée, the Parmezan cheese and parsley and mix to combine. Serve with the sautéed mushrooms topped with more freshly chopped parsley!

Discussion-Conclusion

Definitely a special plate of food! The sweetness of the squash and the smoky earthiness of the mushrooms are a unique combination. I tried the same recipe with 1/2 the butternut squash and it works quite as well. Obviously, if you add more squash, the risotto will become sweeter, so up to you! Overall, it is a bit laborious but is definitely worth your time! Trust me!

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