Roasted Squash and Fontina Cheese Risotto

By Ira

I have tried many different kinds of squash risottos but was not happy with the outcome until I came across this recipe from Michael Chiarello. The trick is to roast the squash with garlic, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. The outcome was a delicious creamy squash risotto with the flavors of garlic and fontina cheese in the background.

Serves 6 – Adapted from Michael Chiarello

The original recipe can be found here. I cut down on the amount of butter when roasting the squash and decided to go with the garlic instead of the sage as recommends not to use both together.

Roasted Squash

  • 2 cups 1-inch cubes butternut squash (from a 4-pound squash)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt & Pepper

Risotto

  • About 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from one large onion)
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups shredded fontina cheese (not packed)
  • About 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

For the squash: Preheat the oven to 350F.

Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil (this will make clean up easier).

Cut up the squash into cubes

and put them in a large bowl.

Get the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and garlic ready.

Melt the butter in a pan on medium heat.

Add the garlic,

followed by the vinegar and brown sugar. Be careful when adding the vinegar as it may splatter. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 1 minute and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Pour the mixture over the squash and toss.

Arrange the squash on the prepared pan, cover it with aluminum foil, and bake until very tender and caramelized, about 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 400ºF for 5 minutes to caramelize the squash further. Remove from the oven and let it cool briefly.

Puree in a food processor until creamy. You can add a little bit extra water or chicken stock to help the food processor.

For the risotto: Meanwhile, while the squash is roasting, prepare all the ingredients for the risotto.

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and keep it at a slow simmer while you make the risotto. Check the seasonings as this will be absorbed by the rice and needs to have salt and pepper.

Heat a medium/large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil or butter. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook stirring from time to time until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the rice and the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is pearly white just a few minutes.

Add the wine and cook, stirring, until very little liquid is left in the pan. Ladle in 1 cup of the hot stock. Reduce the heat to medium-low, keep the rice at a gentle simmer, while stirring frequently, until almost all the liquid is gone. Ladle in 1/2 cup of the hot stock and repeat this process until the rice is creamy and has no crunch.

This process will take 20-25 minutes.

Stir in the butternut squash puree, remove from the heat, and stir in the fontina. Taste the risotto and see if it needs additional salt and pepper.

To serve, plate the risotto onto shallow bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, parsley and extra black pepper.

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