This side dish will definitely impress your most revered dinner guests. Many cooks believe that risotto is basically high-maintenance, requiring constant attention. I beg to differ and can leave it absorbing hot stock, ladlefuls at a time, and with a quick glance and stir here and there. Just make sure that there is always a teensy-weensy bit of liquid left before you add another batch of stock—and make sure that the stock is hot because you’ll want to ensure continuous cooking. Just know that cool or room temperature stock messes up this process. Also, you can leave out the saffron if you don’t have any. However, it does add nice color and some added flavor that is hard to describe.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 35 minutes
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tbsp. of olive oil
6 cup(s) of chicken stock
6 tbsp. of (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup(s) of minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cup(s) of Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup(s) of dry white wine
1 tsp. of saffron threads
1 cup(s) of freshly grated Parmesan
4 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened and cut into little cubes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. Smear olive oil on the cut-side of squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a sheet pan and roast for 30-40 minutes, until very tender and easily pierced with a butter knife. Cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin and set aside
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron and add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente (fully cooked but still retains a slight chew in the center), about 30 minutes total.
Off the heat, add the roasted squash, Parmesan, and the softened cream cheese cubes. Mix well and serve garnished with chopped fresh flat-leaved parsley, in a cute pumpkin shell, if you really “wow” your friends or family!