This luxurious risotto features two of fall’s most celebrated darlings: dense, orange fleshed winter squash (which, coincidentally happen to trickle into season from late summer into early fall) and new season walnuts. Kabocha, red kuri, blue hubbard, or butternut squash all work for this recipe.
Risotto, just like pasta, is best when served al dente. In the case of rice, this means that the grain should feel soft but should maintain the sublest toothsomeness.
FOR THE RISOTTO
2 tablespoons ghee
4 medium shallots, finely minced
3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves finely chopped
1½ cup risotto rice
3 cups diced winter squash, cut into ¼ inch cubes
½ cup dry white wine
5-6 cups chicken stock
½ cup grated alpine style cheese, such as gruyere, comte, or something local to you
1 generous tablespoon butter
1 cup sage & garlic toasted walnuts, ingredients follow
A generous pinch of chili flakes
Salt to season
FOR THE SAGE & GARLIC TOASTED WALNUTS
1 tablespoon ghee
1 cup raw walnuts
A small pinch salt
5-6 sage leaves, finely chopped
Place a frying pan over medium heat. Add the ghee. When it’s warm, add the walnuts and a small pinch of salt. Lower the heat a touch, and toast, tossing frequently, until the walnuts are golden and toasted throughout. Add the garlic and sage, give everything another good toss to coat, then take the pan off the heat. The residual heat will mellow the raw edge of the garlic and release the aroma of the sage. Set the nuts aside to cool while you cook the risotto.
Place a wide, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and add a heaping tablespoon of ghee. When melted and warm, add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are meltingly soft and translucent - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rosemary, and cook for another minute - being careful not to let the garlic burn.
Add the rice, diced squash and a generous pinch of salt, and stir to thoroughly coat. Deglaze with the wine, and give everything another good stir. Add 2 generous ladlefuls of the chicken stock and allow it to come up to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally, and cook until the rice has soaked up all but the smallest puddle of liquid. Add another couple of ladlefuls of broth, and repeat the same process (stir, simmer, stir, ladle - always making sure the rice has soaked up all but the dregs of each addition of liquid before adding more) until you’re almost out of broth and the rice is just al dente.
Add the grated cheese, butter, chili flakes, another small ladleful of stock, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine, and taste for seasoning. Add more salt to taste. Fold in the toasted walnuts and serve immediately.