Black Beans

While we provide this recipe for black beans, it works for any kind of dried beans. And served up with rice, these black beans will make a really great main or a nice side. Today, it seems as though most people prefer to buy canned beans, and we do buy them occasionally, but for the most part, we make them from scratch. Why? They really do taste better. They are less mushy. And it is significantly cheaper to scratch out a pot of beans. Besides, it really isn’t difficult. Sure, it takes some time, but very little of that time is yours, mostly the beans are simmering.

This particular recipe is modified from Greg Atkinson’s At the Kitchen Table, The Craft of Cooking at Home.

Black Beans

Yield: 2 servings

Black Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Abbreviated Instructions

Put the beans in a colander and give them a good rinse. Pick out and bad ones and watch for small stones.

For faster cooking beans, place them in a saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Let soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse beans and continue cooking as instructed.

Boil the water along with bay leaf and salt.

Once the water is boiling, add the beans and bring back to a full boil.

Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for an hour.

Turn the heat to high and bring the beans back to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer covered until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

When the beans are tender, heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan and cook the onions, garlic, and spices until the onion is tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add to beans and simmer 30 minutes more.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2012/12/black-beans/

Ingredient discussion:

If you don’t have kosher salt, use regular, but use about 3/4 of a teaspoon. Kosher salt is less dense than table salt, so you need a bit more. You can substitute any dried beans for the black beans; we often do.

Procedure in detail:

washing beans
Wash and pick through the beans, removing any small stones and bad beans.

Wash the beans. Put the beans in a colander and give them a good rinse. Pick out and bad ones and watch for small stones. As some packages of dried beans explain, “Beans come from the farmer….” Who knew?

Soak beans (optional, but recommended). For faster cooking beans, place them in a saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Let soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse beans and continue cooking as instructed.

water, salt, and bay leaf
Making beans is as easy as boiling water. Well, pretty much.

Boil water. Boil the water along with bay leaf and salt. See, it’s not so hard to make scratched beans, is it?

cooking beans
Bring the beans to a full boil. Then turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for an hour.

Add beans. Once the water is boiling, add the beans and bring back to a full boil.

Let stand 1 hour. Turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for an hour. This is the essentially the quick-soak method you may have read about elsewhere. You could also soak the beans overnight and drain them in the morning. Or even both, depending on the bean. We did both for garbanzo beans.

Boil, then simmer. Turn the heat to high and bring the beans back to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer covered until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Make sure to stir them from time to time, and, if necessary, add water to cover the beans. We can’t give you an exact time because older dried beans take longer to cook.

sauteing onions and spices
Saute up the onions, garlic, and spices. Smells good!

Make the sauté. When the beans are tender, heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan and cook the onions, garlic, and spices until the onion is tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.

onions and beans
Adding the onions and spices at this later stage prevents them from being muddied during the long cooking the beans require.

Add the onion mix. Your beans are almost done, so add in those onions, garlic, and spices you’ve just cooked up. Stir them in, and cook the beans for about another 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

black beans
When done, you will have mostly beans and just a bit of water that has turned into a bean gravy.

Done. Serve your scratched beans as a side, or with rice.

This is our standard recipe for making beans; it’s easy, tastes great, and, as we’ve pretty much given up on canned beans since we got this recipe, it’s a fiver.

Worth the trouble?

Tourteau de chèvre

This particular recipe from Dorie Greenspan (Around my French Table) is way too good for the amount of effort required. It is really easy to put together — the most difficult part is separating the eggs — and it makes one of the best cheesecakes that we’ve ever had. Dreamy light, subtlety sweet, with a rich cheese flavor, this cake can easily stand on its own, but it would also be great with a raspberry coulis or a really good chocolate sauce. But for now, let’s go with plain.

Tourteau de chèvre

Tourteau de chèvre

Ingredients

  • 1 Tart Dough, chilled and ready to roll
  • 5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
  • 9 ounces soft plain goat cheese, room temperature
  • 3 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Either butter an 8- to 9-inch springform pan, or line an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the tart dough to about a 10-inch circle.

Carefully place the tart dough into the pan and bring it up the sides.

Pop the pan with the crust into the fridge until you are ready to pour in the filling.

Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt. As they start to form soft peaks, start adding the 2 tablespoons sugar. Once they form stiff but shiny peaks, stop and transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl.

Once the whites are out of the mixer bowl, put the remaining ingredients in the bowl. Mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Fold in egg whites. Start with about 1/4 of the egg whites and fold those in as best you can. This will lighten up the batter, making it easier to fold in the rest.

Pour it into the prepared tart shell, making sure to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes are up, lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more. Slide a small thin knife in the cake to test if it is done. If the knife comes out clean, your cake is baked.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Place it on a rack and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then remove it from the pan and let cool to room temperature.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2012/12/tourteau-de-chevre/

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tart Dough, chilled and ready to roll
  • 5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
  • 9 ounces soft plain goat cheese, room temperature
  • 3 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Ingredients discussion:

You have two main ingredients here, the eggs and the goat cheese, so don’t skimp on either, especially the goat cheese. We are lucky enough to get artisan goat cheese made by Black Mesa Ranch through our CSA. About a year ago, we attended one of their open houses, met the owners, met the goats, and saw that everyone was happy and passionate about their role on the ranch. That’s what makes a great product.

Procedure:

separating eggs
We like to separate each egg into small bowls, then pour each white into the mixing bowl. It doesn’t matter if whites are in the yolks, but you can’t have a molecule of yolk in the whites.

Separate the eggs. Do this while the eggs are cold, as you’ll be less likely to break the yolks. Another tip, when we are separating more than one or two eggs, we separate each egg into a small bowl, then dump the egg whites into our mixing bowl. This way, if an egg yolk breaks, we only have to discard one white and not the whole batch. We also do this first, so the separated eggs will have time to warm.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

cake pan lined with parchment paper
With a little careful scissors work, you can line a round cake pan, including the sides, with baking parchment.

Prepare a baking pan. Either butter an 8- to 9-inch springform pan, or line an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper.

rolled out tart dough
We had great success by putting the tart dough between a piece of wax paper and the plastic wrap that it chilled in, with a dusting of flour. Do whatever works for you.

Roll out tart dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the tart dough to about a 10-inch circle. You might want to try putting it between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap before rolling. Sometimes that makes it a bit easier.

 

tart dough in cake pan
Work the dough up the sides of the pan. Neatness is not too important. You could cut the edges smooth if you want, but we don’t bother.

Place in pan. Carefully place the tart dough into the pan and bring it up the sides. Don’t worry too much about neatness unless you are a perfectionist. When everything bakes, no one will notice a slightly uneven crust.

Refrigerate. Pop the pan with the crust into the fridge until you are ready to pour in the filling.

whipped egg whites
Add a pinch of salt, and, while whipping, incorporate 2 tablespoons of sugar. Make sure you get stiff peaks, but they shouldn’t look dry and crumbly.

Whip the egg whites. After letting them warm to room temperature, add the pinch of salt and start whipping. As they start to form soft peaks, start adding the 2 tablespoons sugar. Once they form stiff but shiny peaks, stop and transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl.

tart batter
The remaining ingredients mixed until smooth and creamy. We told you this is an easy recipe.

Mix everything else. Once the whites are out of the mixer bowl, put the remaining ingredients in the bowl. The goat cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, five egg yolks, and vanilla extract can all be put in the mixer bowl. Don’t bother cleaning it out, that little bit of whites left in won’t hurt anything. Mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.

folding in egg whites
This is the only difficult part. You have to be gentle, and a bit quick, to get those egg whites folded in without their collapsing.

Fold in egg whites. Start with about 1/4 of the egg whites and fold those in as best you can. This will lighten up the batter, making it easier to fold in the rest. Now you should have a nice light batter.

the tart ready to go into the oven
If everything worked right, your batter should fill the shell right to the tippy top. We find that an 8-inch pan that is 2 inches deep is perfect.

Pour the batter. Pour it into the prepared tart shell, making sure to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

testing a cheesecake to ensure it is done
The knife is clean so the cake is done. Now we have to wait until it cools, that’s the hard part.

Bake for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes are up, lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more. Slide a small thin knife in the cake to test if it is done. If the knife comes out clean, your cake is baked. The cake will be puffed up and browned on top. It will deflate as it cools.

cooling cheesecake
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. If you’ve lined a cake pan with parchment paper, it should lift right out.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Place it on a rack and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then remove it from the pan and let cool to room temperature.

plated cheesecake
We plated the cheesecake on a large platter for serving. It looks nice and is easier to cut. Doesn’t it look delish?

Serve. And prepare yourself for some of the best cheesecake ever. Not one of those sickly sweet lemony things that involve cream cheese, but a real, honest-to-goodness, light-as-can-be cheesecake that you’ll make again and again. Especially after you see people eating it literally swoon and then ask where you purchased such a delicious cake. And imagine their look when you say you’ve scratched it up just this morning. We’ve made this cake, oh, probably once a month since we first read the recipe, and it has never failed to impress.

As we said in the introduction, this cake is much too good for the amount of effort involved. A definite five-starrer.

Worth the trouble?

Tart Dough

Here’s a quick, easy recipe from Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan. You’ll want to have one like this in your list of recipes-for-special-occasions. It makes a slightly sweet tart dough, which is perfect for her Tourteau de chèvre from the same book. You’ll see that recipe tomorrow. Don’t worry, this one has to chill overnight anyway.

Tart Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp ice water

Abbreviated Instructions

Measure the dry ingredients directly into a food processor.

Pulse the dry ingredients a few times to mix thoroughly.

Put the bits of butter all over the top of the dry ingredients.

Pulse until you have something that looks like coarse meal.

In another bowl, fork together the egg and ice water.

Add a third of the egg mixture. Pulse. Add another third. Pulse. Add the remaining third. Pulse, pulse, pulse. If the dough is moist and clumps when pressed together, great. Otherwise, add a teaspoon of ice water, and pulse and check again.

Turn out the dough, press into a ball, form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least three hours or overnight.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2012/12/tart-dough/

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp ice water

Ingredient discussion: Only thing we can say is that free range eggs are the best, but you already knew that.

Procedure:

Dry ingredients in a food processor
Just dump all the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse away.

Measure the dry ingredients. Measure them directly into a food processor. You can make this with your hands, and you can find out how in Around my French Table, but the easiest is the food processor.

Dry ingredients in a food processor
Once whirred a bit, everything will be well mixed.

Whirr. Pulse the dry ingredients a few times to  mix thoroughly.

adding butter to dry ingredients
Distribute the butter bits evenly across the dry ingredients. Each bit should be very cold, and about 1/2-inch cube.

Add chilled butter. Put the bits of butter all over the top of the dry ingredients.

tart dough in a food processor
It’s hard to see, but the butter is pretty much all incorporated.

Whirr. Pulse until you have something that looks like coarse meal. Don’t worry if you have a few large lumps. It won’t matter.

egg and ice water
It’s fine to mix the egg and ice water together a bit. The food processor will take care of the rest.

Mix egg and water. In another bowl, fork together the egg and ice water. In general, we’ve needed a bit more water than this recipe calls for, close to a tablespoon, but you can add more a bit later.

tart dough
After adding the egg/water the dough should just start to come together. You’ll be able to press it into a ball without it crumbling.

Whirr. Add a third of the egg mixture. Pulse. Add another third. Pulse. Add the remaining third. Pulse, pulse, pulse. If the dough is moist and clumps when pressed together, great. Otherwise, add a teaspoon of ice water, and pulse and check again. You might have to add 2 teaspoons of ice water total.

finished tart dough
Tart dough, pressed, patted, and sealed for a trip to the cooler.

Turn out. Turn out the dough, press into a ball, form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least three hours or overnight.

Like all of Dorie Greenspan’s recipes, this gets five stars.

 

Tourteau de chèvre

Worth the trouble?

Best Ever Waffles

We happen to love waffles, and, when we got our waffle iron, we grabbed our copy of The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker to find a recipe. In general, The Joy of Cooking is our go-to cookbook. It has recipes for almost everything you can imagine, and, in most cases the end results are quite good. Well, in the case of their Buttermilk Waffle recipe, they are the best, at least with a slight modification (a little less butter). We know these are the best, because we tried several other recipes: a cornmeal one, one that was supposed to be “real-man” waffles, another from a popular cookbook, and we found these to be inferior; apparently a “real man” likes waffles that have the taste and texture of cardboard. We went back to TJOC recipe; here we give our slightly modified version.

Best Ever Waffles

Best Ever Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted before measuring
  • 2 eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
  • 4-5 Tbs melted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups scratched buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Abbreviated Instructions

Put the egg yolks in about a 3-quart bowl, which will hold your batter when you’re done.

Whisk the egg yolks for a minute, or so, until they are golden-yellow and are a bit light. Then add the buttermilk and melted butter, and whisk together until well blended.

Re-sift flour with salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar.

Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the liquid. You don’t want a smooth batter; lumpy is fine.

Using a mixer (or a clean whisk and a lot of arm power), whip the egg whites until they hold firm but still glossy peaks.

Carefully fold in the egg whites. It helps to fold in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten the batter, then fold in the rest. You should now have a nice light batter.

Cook the waffles. If you have a waffle maker / iron, follow those instructions.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2012/12/best-ever-waffles/

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
  • 4-5 Tbs melted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups scratched buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Ingredients discussion:

The original recipe called for six tablespoons of butter, but we found that our waffles turned out just a little greasy, so we’ve backed off just a bit. We, like you, of course, use home-scratched buttermilk. It’s always in the fridge, so why not? Eggs: free range, baby; separate when cold, and allow to come to room temp, so the whites whip better.

Procedure:

separated eggs
Separate the eggs. Yolks in one bowl, whites in another. If you get yolk in the whites, you are doomed.

Separate the eggs. We put the egg whites into our mixer bowl. You can put yours into a bowl that you can use with a mixer (hand or stand); in the worst case, you can use a whisk to whip up the egg whites. Yes, you do need to whip up the egg whites, at least if you want light, crispy waffles. Those “real-man” waffles skipped this step. Put the egg yolks in about a 3-quart bowl, which will hold your batter when you’re done.

 

egg yoks and sifted flour
You should sift the flour before measuring. We generally sift more than we need into a bowl, then dump whatever we don’t use back in the bag.

Sift flour. Into yet another bowl, sift about 3 cups of flour; you’ll use only 2 cups, but you want to sift before measuring.

Whisk egg yolks. Whisk the egg yolks for a minute, or so, until they are golden-yellow and are a bit light. Then add the buttermilk and melted butter, and whisk together until well blended.

measured out sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda
Measuring the small amounts of dry ingredients into a measuring cup allows us to re-sift all the ingredients together without using another bowl.

Measure dry ingredients. Measure the salt, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar into a 1-cup measuring cup. This will make it a bit easier to re-sift in the next step. Add flour to fill and strike level.

sifting ingredients
If you want really light waffles, do the sifting, as it fluffs the flour.

Re-sift. Pour the flour mixture into a sifter and sift it right on top of the liquid ingredients. Do this with the second cup of flour. And since the sugar, etc., took up space, add 2 more tablespoons of flour so you’ll have a full two cups.

waffle batter
You want to work in the dry ingredients quickly. The resulting batter will be lumpy. It’ll cook out in the end.

Mix. Quickly mix the dry ingredients into the liquid. You don’t want a smooth batter; lumpy is fine.

Whip the egg whites. Using a mixer (or a clean whisk and a lot of arm power), whip the egg whites until they hold firm but still glossy peaks. If they look dry, you’ve whipped too long. If they didn’t whip, either you got a bit of yolk in the whites, or there was a bit of oil in the bowl. Either will prevent your whites from whipping.

folding in egg whites
Fold in the egg whites. Careful, you don’t want them to collapse. After all, you just whipped them full of air.

Fold in the egg whites. Carefully fold in the egg whites. It helps to fold in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten the batter, then fold in the rest. You should now have a nice light batter.

waffle batter on an iron
Ladle the appropriate amount of batter into the hot waffle iron and cook according to your iron’s instructions.

Cook the waffles. If you have a waffle maker / iron, follow those instructions. We didn’t have instructions with ours, so we found out through trial and error just how much batter and how long to cook. Once we had that, we’re set.

a perfectly done waffle
Oh! Doesn’t that look great? A perfectly-done waffle, crispy on the outside, yet light and airy on the inside.

Serve with maple syrup. Enjoy some of the lightest crispiest waffles you’ve ever had. These really are the best, although they might be even better with a teaspoon of vanilla.

After fooling around with those other recipes, this is the only one we use, so five stars.

Worth the trouble?

Southern Saturday Dinner

Well, with those Hakurei turnips showing up this week in our CSA share, we thought we’d build a special dinner based solely on turnips as the starting point. On the way home from picking up our share, we were thinking that a great dinner would be something like:

  • Hakurei turnips sautéed in butter
  • Slow cooked turnip greens

Those two items gave us the idea of making something Southern or at least South-Eastern, so we added:

  • Black beans and rice
  • Buttermilk biscuits

And, now for something completely different; dessert

Everything is something we’ve made before, so we’ll have no trouble putting this together. Now it’s off to the pantry to make sure we have everything.

Q: How did it go? A: We left off the biscuits when we realized that we would have more than enough food. While we really like buttermilk biscuits, it would have been overkill for two people. Everything else turned out really well. We used black beans for the beans and rice, which is always good. The turnips were easy-peasy, basically clean and sauté, and slow cooking is the best way to have greens. The tourteau, as always, was wonderful.

 

Q: Timeline? A: We did the Tourteau in the morning so it could cool to room temp by dinner time. Since the beans cook for a while and aren’t harmed by standing, we started those while the cake was baking, same with soaking, draining, and drying the rice. We finished the beans around 4:30, washed the turnips and put them in a sauté pan with butter and wine, then started the greens. We knew the greens could cook 45 minutes to an hour or more, the beans could just simmer, so any time issues where now driven by the rice (15-20 minutes cooking time) and the turnips (also about 15 minutes). These we just started 20 minutes before we wanted to serve.

 

Q: Any lessons or things you’d do different? A: Nah, while it may seem surprising, this is a pretty good menu when you’re busy. Nothing is really too needy so you can let things simmer until you are ready. And of course, beans and rice make for a fantastic meal.

Our CSA Haul

weekly CSA share
weekly CSA share
Oh my, look at all that lovely produce fresh from the farmer’s field.

We have been members of the CSA for about five years now and we never take for granted the great produce we get. It is downright amazing how much fresh produce and store produce differ. The fresh is always better. If you think it might be for you, you should see if there is a CSA nearby, or, at the very least, check into a local farmers’ market. We’ll bet you’ll be glad you did. Anyway, this week our haul of loot is:

  • Bok Choy (3 small heads)
  • Braising mix (1 bunch)
  • Rapini (1 bunch)
  • Hakurei Turnips (1 bunch)
  • Tomatoes (7 small)
  • Spaghetti Squash (1 medium)
  • Black beans (about 1 lb)
  • Summer squash (2)
  • Fresh goat cheese (6 ounces)

For those who don’t know, rapini is sort of like proto-broccoli with more leaves, and the braising mix is basically a mix of winter greens, generally a bit too tough for salads, but will cook up nicely. Hakurei turnips, unlike the larger turnips, are tender and sweet, and we’ll be sure to have these sautéed in butter. Yum. The rest? Well, stay tuned.

December 9 update: The Hakurei turnips went into Saturday’s dinner, same with the black beans and goat cheese. We made a quick sauté of braising mix, squash (from the previous week) and some tomatoes for dinner one night.

December 12 update: One head of bok choy went into a batch of stir fried rice (it was a small head. The other two heads of bok choy went into greens latkes. Yum. These are basically a savory pancake with steamed greens mixed in. With a splash of soy sauce, we can eat a whole bunch of greens in one quick meal. We steamed the rapini and served it smothered in a cheese sauce. Also quite good, and a nice way to deal with vegetable that can be a bit bitter.

Butternut Sage Risotto

Ah, risotto. One of our favorite dishes. We like to think of it as the Italian counterpart to macaroni and cheese. Comfort food at its best.

This particular recipe comes from a relative, who got it from a friend, so it has a history of being passed around, and, apparently, a lot of people really like it. We learned about it one Christmas when we received an entire cookbook of our families’ recipes from this same family member. We knew about it in advance, since everyone was asked to contribute their favorite recipes; all of those were compiled and bound into a nice, easy-to-use book. It was such a great idea, and whenever we read a recipe, in our heads we can hear the voices of those who contributed. It is one of our treasured gifts.

Serves 4-6

Butternut Sage Risotto

Butternut Sage Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 small (1 3/4 lb) pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots or finely minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs freshly chopped sage (or 1 Tbs dried)

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash. Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 35 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, melt butter in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened and just beginning to brown.

Add rice and cook until the rice is translucent, about 2 minutes.

Pour the wine in with the rice, and cook, stirring all the time until the wine is almost evaporated.

Add 1/2 cup broth. Stir constantly. When that broth is almost evaporated or absorbed, add another 1/2 cup. Keep stirring and adding broth when the broth in the rice is absorbed. After about 20-30 minutes, the rice will be tender, but it’ll still have the slightest hint of chewiness in the center.

Add the squash and stir until heated through, another 5 minutes. Then turn off heat.

Add the cheese and sage and stir until combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes so the cheese melts, then stir and serve.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2012/12/butternut-sage-risotto/

Ingredients:

  • 1 small (1 3/4 lb) pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 2 Tbs  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots or finely minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs freshly chopped sage (or 1 Tbs dried)

Ingredient discussion: Yes, you need to buy Arborio rice. Or Carnaroli rice, but that’s generally harder to find and more expensive. Cheese: never, ever get the stuff in a green box. Read the ingredients on that box and you’ll find cellulose; cellulose is sawdust, and you can’t digest sawdust. Just buy a chunk of real Parmesan; it’ll have far more flavor, meaning you’ll use less and the final cost will be about the same. And you’ll avoid eating termite food. Wine is also not optional. We can’t put our finger on just what it adds, but risotto without wine just tastes glommy and bland.

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

cubed butternut squash ready for baking
Toss the squash cubes in olive oil. This helps them bake faster and prevents them from drying out. No one likes squash jerky.

Prep the butternut. Peel, seed, and cube the butternut squash. We use an ordinary vegetable peeler to remove the peel, then cut off the stem, and trim off the bottom part where the flower was attached. Slice in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Often, we’ll roast up the seeds for a tasty snack. Finally, cut into cubes about 1/2 inch on a side.

Toss with olive oil and season. We pour about a tablespoon of oil onto a rimmed baking sheet, then dump the cut squash on and stir it around until each and every cube is coated. Then we break out the pepper grinder and salt grinder and grind away. Then toss again to distribute the S&P.

Bake. You knew that since we were preheating the oven, we’d be baking, didn’t you? Yep, pop the squash into the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until tender.

baked squash cubes
Once you’ve baked the squash, just set it aside. It doesn’t matter if it cools, it’ll get reheated later.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Now for the risotto. Prepare yourself for some stirring. Prepared? Good. Let’s do it.

Heat broth. In a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer. You want the broth hot when you add it to the rice. Otherwise, the rice won’t cook properly.

Onions and garlic sautéing in butter and olive oil. Yum.

Saute onions and garlic. In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, melt butter in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened and just beginning to brown.

cooking arborio rice
Just stir the rice around in the sautéed onions and garlic for about 2 minutes.

Add rice. Dump the rice in and stir and cook until the rice is translucent, about 2 minutes.

wine added to arborio rice
Add the wine to the rice. Choose a dry wine that you like. We’ve even used Champagne. It’s perfect for New Years Eve.

Add wine. Pour the wine in with the rice, and pour yourself a glass, too. Might as well. Cook, stirring all the time — we did say get prepared — until the wine is almost evaporated.

Once the wine is absorbed you can add broth. Cook the liquid down before every addition of liquid.

Add 1/2 cup broth. Stir constantly. When that broth is almost evaporated or absorbed, add another 1/2 cup. Keep stirring and adding broth when the broth in the rice is absorbed. Feel free to have a sip of wine with each addition. After about 20-30 minutes, the rice will be tender, but it’ll still have the slightest hint of chewiness in the center.

squash in risotto
Adding the baked squash to the risotto. When the risotto is done, it will be a bit creamy and the rice grains should have a little chewiness.

Add the squash and stir until heated through, another 5 minutes. Then turn off heat.

 

adding Parmesan to risotto
Add the Parmesan and sage to the pan. We didn’t have sage, so we left it out. It was still good.

Add the cheese and sage and stir until combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes so the cheese melts, then stir and serve. Sometimes, right before serving we stir in a bit of cream or butter, maybe 2 tablespoons total. This seems to add to the creaminess of the risotto.

When serving, we like to sprinkle just a bit more Parmesan cheese and a crackle of pepper on top.

When we made this, we cut the recipe in half, added a cup of squash, and served the risotto on a bed of remaining squash. It made for a nice presentation.

Risotto always gets five stars (unless it’s from restaurants; 90% of that stuff is bad).

Worth the trouble?