Some years ago, I watched the first couple of seasons of Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen and immediately became terrified of risotto. People were always burning it or not stirring it or neglecting it in a myriad of other ways that launched a personal tirade of insults and over the top drama. Eventually I associated the attempt at risotto with being called an idiot and donkey who doesn’t care and I put the idea of tackling it out of my mind.
With most risotto, you have to prepare a simmering pan of broth and then slowly add to the liquid to the rice as it cooks. Eventually you end up with creamy, flavorful rice that just isn’t achievable with other kinds of applications. The original recipe called for baking this almost entirely in the oven. I found while the oven gave it a good start, but it wasn’t enough to soften the rice. I needed to revert to the warm liquid stirring method of the classical risotto. The result is delicious, creamy and smooth . The dish is extremely easy and made 12 individual serving packages for lunches/dinners when I don’t have time to cook.
When I make again, I’ll sauté the fennel until soft to even out the textures a bit. Other than that, it’s perfect.
The recipe is adapted from taste.com.au
Butternut Squash and Fennel Baked Risotto
2 1/2 cups butter nut squash, peeled, cored and cut into 3/4″ chunks
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut in thin slices
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
kosher salt and black pepper
additional stock or water
chopped parlsey for garnish
shaved Parmesan for garnish
1. Combine squash, fennel, rice, garlic, wine, stock and garlic into a large dutch oven. Cover tightly and cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
2. Remove from oven and cook on medium-high heat, stirring constantly until remaining water is absorbed into rice. If rice is not creamy and does not have a smooth texture, additional simmering water 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed. Taste. Repeat as necessary. When desired consistency is reached, season well with kosher salt and pepper and add Parmesan cheese.
To serve, sprinkle top with a small amount of grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.