I normally look forward to holidays with much anticipation, knowing that I’ll be able to bake themed treats for family and friends. However, this was not to be this Halloween, as I was on-call for the four nights leading up to Halloween. As such, I’ve decided to write a post on this risotto, as it’s nice and orange-y, and is the closest thing to Halloween I have in my growing backlog of posts.
I discovered butternut squash a few years ago, and I instantly fell in love. One thing I didn’t like back then though was how tedious preparing it was (I didn’t have very good knives at the time, which definitely doesn’t help!)… but then…. I discovered the beauty of prepared butternut squash. Now, I’m not one who normally goes for ready prepared vegetables as I don’t think it justifies the extra money you pay for it, but I make an exception for butternut squash. Instead of spending 5 minutes (or more) cubing the squash, I only have to open the packet, and ta-dah! An added plus is that the squash will be de-skinned – I used to leave the skin on as it was too much effort to peel it, but wasn’t exactly a fan of the skin as I find it too hard.
I’ve always enjoyed butternut squash risotto, and have always made it in my usual ‘throw everything together and see what happens’ way. I’ve also always added chorizo to my squash risotto as I find that they complement each other really well. However, something I saw on Simon Rimmer’s show on Good Food channel caught my attention – instead of just having cubed squash in his risotto, he also puts aside a portion of squash and blends it to mix it in with the risotto. Pure genius. It not only adds flavour to the risotto, but also makes the risotto turn a delightful shade of yellow. Yum.
Butternut squash and chorizo risotto
Inspired by Simon Rimmer
- 400g prepared butternut squash, peeled de-seeded and cut into 2-3 cm cubes (I used 2 packets of M&S prepared squash)
- ~200g chorizo, sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.3 litres hot vegetable stock (make a little bit more than this as you may need it, see below)
- 20g butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 400g risotto rice (I used arborio)
- 100g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia light)
- bunch lemon thyme
- 25g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Put half the butternut squash and the chorizo slices in a roasting tin and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes. Take care to not let the chorizo burn (they become hard and chewy if this happens – you may need to remove the chorizo after about 15 minutes).
3. Simmer the remaining squash in stock until softened. Tip the squash into a sieve, reserving any stock in a bowl below. Puree the squash (I used my trusty hand blender for this) and keep on the side.
4. Melt the butter in a large pan and sweat the chopped onion for about 5 minutes.
5. Tip in the rice and stir well into the onion. This step creates a “shell” around each grain of rice, allowing it to slowly absorb liquid during the cooking process.
6. Add a ladleful of the hot stock while the pan is still on the heat and stir continuously until absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, gently stirring between each addition – this gives the risotto its characteristic creamy consistency. (On Masterchef, John Torode said that risotto must always be stirred in one direction – I can’t remember why though!)
7. The risotto is done when it is cooked through (i.e. soft when you bite into it). To ensure you have the right consistency, spoon some risotto into a plate, and gently tilt the plate from side to side. The risotto should spread out slowly. If it doesn’t do this, it’s too dry and needs more stock. If it’s overly runny, it needs a bit more cooking to allow the extra stock to evaporate.
8. Once all the stock has been absorbed stir in the pureed squash, followed by the cream cheese, parmesan, and the thyme leaves. Warm through.
9. Dish the risotto into a plate, and top with chorizo, roasted squash and a small spring of thyme. Season with freshly ground black pepper, and enjoy!