I have never cooked or eaten (at least not since I survived on baby food) squash. Hiding it in risotto - with plenty of butter and wine and cheese - seemed like the best way to eat a sort-of suspect vegetable.
And, thus my contribution to Kitchen Challenge 2: Squash It was born.
There are lots of ingredients (which I know intimidates Greta) and a vegetable that isn't corn, peas, or green benas (which makes Denise nervous) and shrimp (which makes the dish non-Em friendly), but read on because it was actually pretty great.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp
Bon Appetit, November 2009, p. 62
Cook's Illustrated: Italian Favorites, 2009, p. 46-47
Serves 4 as a main course (6 as a side dish)
Prep time: 50 - 60 minutes
4 oz pancetta, chopped
1 lb large, uncooked, deveined, peeled shrimp
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium, butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3 1/2 C)
3/4 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
4 C low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 C water
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped (about 1 C)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp)
1 1/3 C Arborio rice
1 1/3 C dry white wine, room temperature
1 1/2 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 C)
1/4 C whipping cream, room temperature
1 tsp dried, ground sage
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1. Get the squash ready. (This was the scariest step for me, but it wasn't really that bad.) Peel it with a vegetable peeler. Cut off the top (about 1") and bottom (about 1"). Cut the squash at its "bulbous point" - the part where it goes from being round to being more stem-like. Cut bulb in half and remove seeds with spoon. (Reserve seeds and goop.) Cut each piece of the bulb into 1/2" halfmoons, then into 1/2" cubes. Stand on neck end and slice into 1/2" planks. Cut planks into 1/2" strips, then into 1/2" cubes.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and saute until fat renders and brown and almost crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to medium bowl. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper (1/8" tsp each). Saute until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Add to bowl with pancetta.
3. Add 2 Tbsp oil to skillet. Heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add 3 1/2 C squash in even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer squash to bowl and set aside.
4. Keep skillet over medium heat; add reserved squash fibers and seeds and any leftover diced squash. Cook, stirring frequently (and, frequently means pretty much constantly) to break up fibers, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large saucepan and add chicken broth and water; cover saucepan and bring mixture to simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain bare simmer. This step really, really freaked me out. It all turned out okay, though, and the broth turned a really great orange color.
5. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add onions, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, strain hot broth through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth hot.
7. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 C hot broth and half of reserved squash to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.
8. Stir in about 1/2 C hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente.
9. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 Tbsp butter, Parmesan, whipping cream, sage, and nutmeg; stir in shrimp and bacon mixture. Gently fold in remaining cooked squash.