Chipotle & Butternut Squash Risotto

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Photography by Allyson Regan

It seems as though fall can’t quite make up it’s mind quite yet here in Michigan.  We had a delightfully chilly week last week, and this week is like the muggiest heat all summer!  But nevertheless, butternut squash persists, and has hit the grocery stores.  This is one of my all time favorite new recipes!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

If you know me well, you know that second only to pasta, risotto is one of my very favorite meals to make.  I fall in love with the process every single time.  The attention to detail, taking the time to toast the rice, the constant stirring, the careful eye watching for the perfect moment to serve, it’s glorious!  When I was about to turn 21, I was the most excited to be able to finally buy wine to make a proper risotto.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Chipotle & Butternut Squash Risotto

1 large butternut squash

1 small can of chipotle peppers, in adobo

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

3 cups of stock, I prefer chicken

2 tbsp butter

1 small yellow onion, small diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 cup good white wine

Goat cheese, optional

salt and pepper

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Peel and cut the squash into a small dice.  Puree the chipotle peppers with the sauce in the can until smooth.  Toss the squash with 2 tbsp (less if you don’t like a lot of spice) and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until soft.  Once cooled, puree 2/3 of the squash.

To start the risotto, begin by melting the butter in a heavy bottomed pot.  Slowly caramelize the onion and garlic, over medium low heat.  Raise the heat to medium, and add the rice, tossing it to cover well with the butter.  Cook until the rice begins to take on color and smell toasted.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, taking care to scrap the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  This kicks off the stirring marathon.  Stir evenly, and once the wine has been absorbed, add in 1/3 cup of warmed stock.  Continue to repeat stirring and adding the stock.  The ratio of 1 cup of arborio rice to 3 cups of stock is tried and true in my kitchen, however, if you end up stirring unevenly or cooking on too high of a temperature, you may need more stock.  When you are about to add the last bit of stock, add in the squash puree from earlier.  Once the stock has been absorbed, add in the goat cheese.  If you are holding this warm for a bit, add in another 2 tbsp of butter which will help the risotto to keep from globbing together.  Yes, in addition to making risotto, we are also making up words.  Finally, taste and season to your liking.  Top each bowl with the roasted squash and more cheese.  Enjoy!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Just a note, you probably won’t use that whole can of chipotle peppers, but save them in your fridge.  I love to add this puree to my chili to deepen the flavor, or you can toss mushrooms with this puree, oil, and brown sugar and roast to create a very umami-esque taste.

 

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Burrata: The Better Mozzarella

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Let’s talk cheese.  If you like mozzarella and good food in general, you’ll love burrata.  Trust me. It’s creamy and fresh, texturally unique compared to other cheese, and so versatile.  If you want to learn more about the process behind making fresh cheese, check it out here!  Or you can read about it here.

Burrata is traditionally from the Apulia region in Italy and is made with water buffalo’s milk or cow’s milk.  It is a thin shell of mozzarella holding in a creamy mixture called stracciatella, which is basically cream and strings of mozzarella curd.  I first had burrata when I was in Italy and we visited a mozzarella factory.  The burrata in Italy tastes different, mostly because the cream they use is the naturally separated cream from the milk, and in the U.S., cream that is mechanically separated is normally used.  The flavor difference also comes from the type of milk used.  The burrata that you can get most commonly in America is made from cow’s milk.

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Here in the midwest, it can be difficult to track down this cheese.  My go-to place is called Martha’s Vineyard.  They usually have burrata in stock and if they don’t, they are pretty good about letting you know when they will have it next.  If you aren’t in Grand Rapids, you should be able to find it at any local specialty wine or cheese shop.

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The brand that I used for this cheese plate (let’s be real….. I ate this for lunch) is called Liuzzi Cheese,  The flavor is really great and it lends itself well to a lot of different dishes and flavors.  It is made in Conneticut, but it is owned by two Italian borthers.  My favorite thing to do is pair it with really great heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction, good extra virgin olive oil, and toasted crostinis.  Oh and lots and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

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I’ve also melted this on sourdough bread with pesto or chipotle aioli and thick cut tomatoes in a grilled cheese.  Or you can melt it on top of a seared chicken breast or top a risotto.  Either way, give it a try and I’m sure you’ll love it!

Want to read more about burrata? Check out these links below.

Bon Appetit

Fine Dining Lovers

Culture Cheese Magazine

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Enjoy!