Certain foods can be found in every kitchen around the world, especially when they’re comfort foods. Rice is eaten at family tables from Korea to Argentina and places in between because all cultures are drawn to food that is comforting and makes us feel at home. Italians love Arborio, a short grain rice, for risotto, a creamy mixture that’s fit for peasants and kings alike. It’s Italy’s ultimate comfort food.
We have an outdoor burner designed for a wok that also holds a giant paella pan, which means we can make enough risotto for a party. We’re having a party this afternoon that will have equal parts kids and adults. The kids will run around and play while the adults concentrate on a pitcher of sangria and stirring the pot. But we’ll all come together for a delicious feast because, big and small, we all love rice.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Constant stirring, which releases the starch from the rice, is the key to creamy risotto.
5 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 cups imported Arborio rice (Italian short-grain rice)
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 butternut squash, peeled, diced and roasted
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and keep the stock hot while using it.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not allow them to color.
Add the Arborio rice and stir well to coat the rice. Toast the rice until it is a pale, golden color. Turn the heat to high and add the white wine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the wine is almost evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium and add 1 cup of the hot chicken stock and the saffron. Stirring gently, allow the stock to be absorbed by the rice. Add another half cup of stock and the butternut squash and cook until stock is partially absorbed again.
Repeat until only about 1/2 cup of the stock remains and the rice is almost cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining stock and 1/4 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately in warmed bowls, garnished with the remaining grated cheese on top.
The beauty of risotto is in the simplicity of the dish. Take your time. Simmer. Stir the pot. It’s worth the wait. And above all, share the pot with good friends because family, friends and food are what satisfy the soul.
Look for more posts on outdoor rice cooking as the weather gets warmer.
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