Butternut Squash Bonanza!
Last weekend was full of fall flavor with, not one, but two fantastic dishes featuring butternut squash. AND these wonders-sure-to-warm-you are from two of the best chefs in Kansas City: Carl Thorne-Thomsen of Story and Colby Garrelts of bluestem.
Saturday, I met a girlfriend for lunch at Story and absolutely raved about the butternut squash bisque. We specifically discussed how perfectly this soup stood on its own and how, so often, a dish like this is overspiced or killed with cream. But not here. Everything was spot-on in this first-course – the texture, the spices, the balance of the stock, cream and vegetable. It was true perfection in a warm and flavorful fall bisque!
You can imagine how excited I was to find Chef Thorne-Thomsen’s recipe had been featured in the Star earlier in the week. Now I can make this wonderfully smooth and satisfying bisque for dinner guests over the holidays. The recipe sounds pretty easy. I can’t wait to try it. Click here for the RECIPE.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we met up with our dinner club for our Christmas gathering this weekend. I decided to take a stab at an amazingly rich, yet simple side dish. Less than a month ago, I tasted Chef Garrelts magnificent Butternut Squash Risotto at the bluestem cookbook wine dinner and immediately knew I would be attempting this at home.
Another uncomplicated recipe, the risotto simply called for shallots, garlic, and white wine to go with the beautiful orange squash. It was a hit! Creamy and savory with just a hint of allspice. Nearly everyone went back for seconds.
I must say, I think it was inferior to what I ate at bluestem. But then again, it was my first try and the risotto had to sit through our salad course before it was served. Maybe next time it will be just right. For sure, I’m making this delicious dish again and again!
Risotto, butternut squash, allspice
Serves 8 as a starting course, 4 as a main course
8 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups butternut squash in ½-inch cubes
2 cups Carnaroli rice
¾ cup white wine
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Freshly grated allspice
1. Heat the chicken stock in a stockpot over low heat. Cover and keep warm.
2. Heat the softened butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and butternut squash and stir until softened, about 5 minutes (you don’t want to develop any color). Using a wooden spoon, stir in the rice, coating it with the butter and seasonings.
3. Continue to stir and toast the rice for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir until it evaporates.
4. Stirring the rice continuously, add the warm stock, 1 cup at a time, making sure that the liquid is completely absorbed by the rice before adding the next cup. The rice will start to release its starch and thicken into a creamy porridge, about 30 minutes. Depending on the texture of risotto you like, the grains of rice should be tender to firm, but not gritty. Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let sit for a couple of minutes.
5. Beat the cold butter and Parmesan into the risotto. Serve immediately. Grate a bit of allspice over the risotto with a nut grater or Microplane zester and any additional Parmesan over the risotto at the table if you like.
TIP: You can buy pre-cut butternut squash at Trader Joe’s and Costco. It was a real time-saver for me after I shopped a little too long Saturday and had to get my side dish ready for the party in a hurry!
Photo credit: Bonjwing Lee (risotto)