This past week we’ve had the most beautiful weather, warm and sunny during the days and only slightly chilly at night. But it seems like the cold front is hitting us and when that happens I need serious comfort food. Risotto is probably one of the most comforting foods out there but unfortunately I don’t always have the patience to stand in front of the stove stirring the pot (even though my friend, Chef to the celebs, Neill Anthony told me that boiling the rice for 8 minutes before making the risotto cuts the time down to almost nothing).
The thing with baking risotto is that the end result is completely different from traditional risotto. The ooze that happens when you plate up the traditional risotto is not there but instead you get almost a paella kind of thing happening where the bottom of the risotto forms a slight bit of a crust (if you use a metal roasting dish to cook it in). This along with the fact that I don’t have to do anything except stir through some cream half way through is quite appealing to me.
You can, of course, do this with any flavour imaginable but during Winter, nothing is quite as satisfying as sweet, buttery butternut squash and paired with pine nuts and sage, you can’t go wrong. I roasted the butternut before hand to bring out even more sweetness and add some flavour but you could steam or boil it if you prefer. And keep a few roasted morsels for plating along with some crispy sage and toasted pine nuts!
1 large butternut, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp maple syrup/honey
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
for the risotto
500g (17.64 ounces) arborio or carnaroli rice
1-1.5l chicken stock (I only use 1l but different rice brand cook differently so you might need to add a bit more stock throughout the cooking process)
100ml (3.38 fluid ounces) cream
1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
toasted pine nuts
roasted butternut cubes
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
- Combine the butternut with the syrup, salt and olive oil in a roasting tray and roast for 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft.
- Puree 3/4 of the butternut, keeping some roasted cubes for plating.
- Turn the oven down to 180° (356 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Place the risotto rice in a roasting tray at least 7-10cm (3.94 inches) deep. Pour in the chicken stock and butternut puree and mix through.
- Place in the oven and allow to bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove from the oven and stir in the cream, sage and nutmeg. Place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
- After 40 minutes the rice should be cooked, taste it and if you feel like it needs more cooking place it back in the oven.
- When the rice is cooked to your liking, season to taste and serve with crispy sage (fried sage), toasted pine nuts and the reserved butternut.