Recipe: Winter Risotto with Butternut Squash and Broccolini
Risotto is one of those dishes that I never seem to get right. There are a few dishes in my repertoire, such as getting homemade bread to rise properly or really anything to do with baking, that no matter how many times I make it something always goes wrong. The procedure behind risotto is a fairly simple concept. Saute some garnish and arborio rice, reduce some wine, and add hot stock bit by bit until the rice is cooked. But you can add too much stock or not enough, cook the rice too fast or too slow, stir the pot too much or too little, and before you know it you wind up with a glutenous (or rock hard) mess without any idea of what you did (or didn't do) wrong (or right).
But Oh! When you get it right, risotto is an amazing dish. Comforting on cold winter days with a bit of braised parsnips and kale, relaxing on a spring afternoon and paired with asparagus and artichokes, refreshing in summer with roasted corn and tomatoes, and hearty for fall when eaten with a bite of squash. Creamy and chewy, aromatic and warm, risotto is that wonderful buttery comfort food that is perfect in every season.
My mother and I had consumed risotto many times at reputable restaurants across the country before we thought to make it at home. This was way before my professional cooking days, but after my "rainbow sprinkles on EVERYTHING" era. My mom and I were adventurous eaters, but needed some practice in the kitchen. Needless to say, our homemade risotto was TERRIBLE. We added way more stock than the recipe called for, but the rice was still terribly undercooked. I think we were so frustrated by the whole experience that we threw the rice in the garbage and ordered pizza.
Risotto is a laborious dish, and can be frustrating to the inexperienced. But don't give up! All it needs is a little gentle love, or as Otis Redding would say: "Try a little tenderness." I got it wrong many times before I got it right.