Sunday, September 7, 2014

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper.

It's not easy to embrace the shorter days and end of beach/grilling season that comes with September. But my love for the savory flavors of fall softens the blow. Squashes like acorn and butternut are right there at the center of my fall cooking, so I knew I had to join the #SundaySupper Squash Fest fun! I thought this Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Fresh Sage would be a perfect dish to share to capture the savory elements of fall food that I enjoy.

I hadn't made this risotto with butternut squash in a long time, so was glad to revisit it! In addition to the butternut squash, the sage is a key ingredient here--I think sage is the quintessential fall herb. I encourage you to bookmark this for one of the first fall days with a chill in the air, and let the savory and just a bit of sweet goodness of this dish warm you up, along with a nice glass of red wine. Thanks to Alice of A Mama, Baby and Shar-pei in the Kitchen and Christy of Confessions of a Culinary Diva for hosting our Squash Fest!

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper
1 1b. butternut squash, diced
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped, plus 4 extra sage leaves
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
3 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic cloved, minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup pecorino romano or parmesan cheese (I used a blend)
handful of baby spinach (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white truffle oil (optional)

Combine the chicken broth, water, and the 4 sage leaves, and bring to a boil. Add the butternut squash, and boil gently for about 8 minutes, until the squash begins to soften. Remove the squash with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Set the squash aside and keep the liquid on low heat. Discard the 4 sage leaves.

Melt the butter on medium heat in a nonreactive, nonstick pan. Add the onions and 1 tbsp sage, saute until onions soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the the garlic, cook for another minute. Add the chicken and cook until it begins to turn white on the outside. Add the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is thoroughly coated with butter.

Begin ladling the liquid into the rice pan, about 1 cup at a time. After adding a cup of liquid, gently stir the rice virtually nonstop (OK, you can run briefly to the refrigerator, but you need to be committed to the risotto!). When the cup of liquid has been absorbed, add another cup and repeat the process.
stirring risotto with chicken

The cooking time for the risotto (once you begin the ladling) is about 30 minutes. When all the liquid has been absorbed, check the consistency of risotto. It should be tender but still have firmness. If it seems too hard (think--would you want to eat it?), add additional water and follow the same process until you get to the desired consistency. When the risotto is done, it can't absorb more liquid, so there's a bit of liquid left. This helps to mix in the cheese and squash.

Stir in the reserved squash, the cheese, 1 more tablespoon of sage, pepper to taste, and truffle oil if you're using it. When I made this most recently for Sunday Supper, I added a handful of baby spinach to add some additional color to the dish. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad or broccoli rabe. Offer additional cheese at the table. Enjoy!

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sage for #SundaySupper

Wine Pairing: I went with the Perticaia Rosso from Umbria.  That was a pretty good pairing, though I a better pairing from that winery was one with our Heaven Sent Grilled Pork Chops. I was debating between that or the 2013 Castello La Leccia Vivaio Del Cavaliere Toscana Rosso, which we wound up having another night. The Castello is a bit softer and more fruit forward and I'd recommend that as a good pairing option. A Pinot Noir could work nicely, too.

Be sure to check out these tasty Squash Fest Recipes from the #SundaySupper bloggers!

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