The thing that I love most about food is that certain dishes can be so tied to a place, to a moment, to a particular understanding of yourself, that when you taste those dishes again all of those memories come flooding back and you’re transported, regardless of how much or little time has passed. In my humble opinion, this is the one of the best reasons to record and share recipes.
Like my Nonnie’s pecan shortbread cookies, my mother’s red beans and rice, and Jordan’s steak au poivre, this risotto holds a special place in my heart. My friend Katie made it for my going away dinner before I left D.C. for Buenos Aires and again during our last year of college for an intimate dinner with a few friends. It is beautiful, seasonal and has just enough going on to keep your attention. Most of all, it is comforting and absolutely delicious. I’m thankful she gave me the recipe, along with several others from her repertoire.
Leek and Butternut Squash Risotto, from Katie Norton
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thinly, about 3 cups
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped finely
salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. You can roast the squash in advance, or do it while you’re babysitting the risotto.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm.
In a large, heavy saucepan or dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and saute until soft, but not brown. Add the rice and stir until the outside of the kernels becomes translucent, but the inside is still white. Add the wine and simmer until absorbed, stirring constantly.
Add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is absorbed. Continue to add stock by the 1/2 cupful until the rice is tender and the mixture has thickened, stirring frequently with each addition. Once tender and creamy, add the squash, cream, parmesan and sage. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy warm!