Sunday, May 18, 2008

Comfort Food

Sometimes you get in a rut. Sometimes you feel uninspired. Sometimes, you just don't feel like cooking. For those times, when your creativity seems to have run dry and you feel no desire to deal with the challenges of having an incredibly small kitchen, you need the right recipe. And the right woman.

The woman, in my case, was my lovely wife, who's constant prodding finally got us back into the kitchen with a new recipe to try. The recipe we found after looking for something to excite our palettes and warm our bellies. I must admit, though, that while I am writing the blog about this dish, my wife did most of the cooking. I helped with chopping and prep, but she really did the bulk of the work. This is because, well, risotto scares me. Yep, that's right. I've tried it before, and it tends to come out like a salty rice pudding rather than the delicate, comforting dish we are all used to.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe that just might help get me back in the game and my head back into the kitchen. Oh, and by the is frickin DELICIOUS!


4 1/2 cups homemade or canned chicken broth, may need a small amount more
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon crushed sage leaves, adjust to taste
4 slices turkey bacon, cut into thirds - regular bacon can be used as well
2 medium shallots, minced or 1 small onion, chopped (approximately 1/4 cup)
2 cups diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups arborio rice or risotto rice
1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese - more if desired
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the broth in a saucepan under medium heat, keep warm. In another saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the sage and bacon. Saute for about 5 minutes until it becomes fragrant. Transfer the bacon and sage to a paper towel. Add shallots to the pan, stirring for 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add the squash and rice to cook, for about one minute. Ladle enough broth into squash and rice mixture to just cover the rice.

Here is where risotto gets tricky: Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly absorbed. Add more broth and continue the process, adding and stirring, for about 25 minutes, until the rice is just tender. Now, be careful, if you add too much broth, the rice will keep absorbing it and it will become mush. As the broth gets absorbed by the rice, continue to taste the rice to check flavor and consistency. If you use all of the broth before the rice is cooked, add a little more at a time until the rice is done and the liquid is absorbed.

Once the rice is just this side of al dente, stir in the bacon, sage and cheese. For a tasty garnish, add some roasted garlic. Take a full head of garlic and chop off the top so you have removed the tips of each garlic clove. Place the head of garlic on a sheet of foil, and drizzle olive oil over it. Wrap tightly, and cook in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until it is light brown and fragrant. The garlic will be soft and very hot, so once it has cooled down a bit squeeze the cloves out of their skins into a small bowl. Mash the garlic into a thick paste, and spoon on top of your risotto.

Thank you to our friends at for the great recipe. Enjoy!