Monday, January 15, 2007

Icy Weather Warm-Up

We are used to snow here in Mytown, but the past few days' icy glaze and rain has been a bit chilling and depressing. Though this picture isn't the best (I'm still experimenting with my limited lighting and equipment), take my word for it that the Winter Squash-Leek Risotto pictured here was delicious. With several cups of squash puree added during the last 10 minutes of cooking, the texture is a bit different than what I'm used to, but it is a wonderful one-dish meal. I could have served a green salad too, but the temptation to just curl up around a hot bowl of this when it was ready was too much to resist. The recipe's from a great cookbook I got from darling KD for Christmas, From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Fresh Seasonal Produce." As usual, I made some alterations.

Winter Squash, Leek, and Saffron Risotto
6-7 cups chicken stock
1/2 t. saffron threads, pulverized (use turmeric in a pinch, if you must)
3 T. olive oil
1/2-1 cup finely chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only (make sure you wash well to remove all grit)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (I used short-grain brown rice - be prepared to extend the cooking/stirring time by 15-25 minutes)
2/3 cup dry white wine (I used vermouth)
2-3 cups cooked pureed winter squash (I used acorn, frozen would work)
3/4-1 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
salt and pepper

Bring stock and saffron to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat olive oil in large, heavy saucepan. Add leeks; cook over medium-low until softened, several minutes. Raise heat to medium-high and stir in rice. Keep stirring 1-2 minutes, then add wine. Stir and cook until nearly all the wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add two ladlefulshot stock (enough to barely cover the rice); stir frequently until most is absorbed. Continue to add stock a ladleful at a time and stir very frequently until nearly absorbed. Risotto is done when rice is barely tender and mixture is creamy; this should take 25-35 minutes (longer with brown rice). Adjust heat if rice is absorbing liquid too quickly. Stir in squash during last 10 minutes. Fold in most of the grated cheese, season with salt and pepper. Serve with a little cheese sprinkled on top. This dish makes plenty. About 6 servings.
(Four servings if Our Hero is eating.)

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