Butternut Squash and Fontina Val d’Aosta Risotto
- Roasted Squash
- 2 cups 1-inch cubes butternut squash (from a 4-pound squash)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh sage, or 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Sea salt, preferably gray salt, and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 About 6 cups squab stock, Roasted Chicken Stock, Mushroom Stock, or Vegetable Stock
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh sage
- 3 cups shredded fontina cheese (not packed)
- 1/4 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. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put the squash chunks into a large bowl.
Heat a large sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter until it foams and begins to brown. Add the sage (or the garlic, one or the other but not both), followed by the vinegar and brown sugar. Stand back, as the mixture may spatter. Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to meld the flavors, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over the squash and toss well.
Arrange the squash on the prepared pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until very tender and caramelized, about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 425ºF for 5 minutes to caramelize the squash further. Remove from the oven and baste the squash with the liquid in the pan. Let cool briefly, then puree in a food processor until creamy. For the risotto: In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep it at the barest simmer while you make the risotto.
For the risotto: Heat a large sauté pan or heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, and cook the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rice and the minced garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is pearly white with a translucent outer layer. 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, ladling in 1/2 cup of stock each time most of the liquid has been absorbed. All together, counting from the first cup of stock, you’ll stir and cook for about 18 to 25 minutes. Taste the rice to decide when it’s done: it should be creamy, firm in the center but without any hint of crunch. Stir in the butternut mixture, remove from the heat, and stir in the shredded sage and the fontina.
To serve: Divide the risotto among shallow bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and parsley.