Thursday, November 29, 2012

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

Usually when I bring home butternut squash, I end up just mashing it with some butter, maple sugar and salt. It's good, but I was getting a little bored. It had also been a very long time since I made risotto, so I guess you could say I killed two birds with one stone (although most of the bird killing was probably done before Thanksgiving). Anyway, this was creamy and satisfying. A nice dish if you have the time.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 oz.)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1.      Preheat oven to 400º F.
2.      Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
3.      Meanwhile, heat the stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
4.      In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned.
5.      Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
6.      Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.
7.      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, about 30 minutes total.
8.      Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

from Ina Garten
raw butternut squash

I conveniently bought mine already chopped
(although I did have to chop it finer).
roasted butternut squash
cooking the shallots and pancetta in butter
rice added
adding the wine
mostly absorbed
stock, saffron, salt and pepper added
absorbed (after adding stock, little by little)
adding squash and parmesan

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mushroom Thyme Gravy

This is the ideal gravy for vegetarians or people (like me) who fry their turkey on Thanksgiving and don't have pan drippings to make gravy. It's rich and deeply flavorful. And if you don't like the idea of making it with vegetable or chicken stock, you can always make a stock from the giblets from inside your turkey (I actually simmered the giblets in homemade chicken stock for a super hybrid stock). Booyah.  

Yield: 2 cups

1/3 cup dried mushrooms (shitake or mixed)
2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup light cream
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
salt & pepper

1.      Bring the stock to a boil. In a small bowl pour stock over mushrooms. Let soak for 20 minutes.
2.      Remove mushrooms from bowl, setting the stock aside for later. Mince or thinly slice the mushrooms.
3.      In a medium saucepan melt the butter. Add the minced shallot and saute for 5 minutes over medium heat until softened.
4.      Add the flour to the butter/shallot mixture stirring constantly. Cook for a 2 minutes.
5.      Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved vegetable stock (leaving mushroom sediment out), stirring well to incorporate after each addition. Cook over medium heat until thickened.
6.      Add the reserved mushrooms, soy sauce, cream, sherry & thyme to the gravy. Cook for a few more minutes until heated through and thickened to desired consistency. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

from (added by sticksnscones)
dried shiitake mushrooms
shiitake mushrooms soaking in hot stock
soaked shiitake mushrooms
shallots cooking in butter
adding flour
adding the stock
fresh thyme leaves
adding mushrooms, soy sauce, cream, sherry & thyme
mushroom thyme gravy

You can make this the day before and
reheat, thinning with more stock as needed.
gravy on mashed potatoes

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cranberry, Apple and Fresh Ginger Chutney

When I first saw the title of this recipe, I was immediately drawn to the apple and fresh ginger. Then as I scanned down, I noticed some onion and celery snuck in there. I couldn't help but think the author should have led with that. It was sort of like telling a friend about the nasty paper cut that's been bothering you, but not mentioning you're having open heart surgery in the morning. Okay, it's nothing like that, but it's definitely a weird omission. Anyway, I had to make it and see if there was any way this could work. So I did. But I did make back up. Two in fact, because I'm both obsessive and indecisive. Then I had my Thanksgiving guests do a taste test. And the shocker...this cranberry sauce won. And just in case you're wondering, the other ones were good. So it's not like this was the least horrible of the three. I liked tastes kind of like someone accidentally got a little stuffing in your cranberry sauce.

Makes 8 servings

4 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup water
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup finely chopped celery 

1.      Combine the cranberries, raisins, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat until berries start to pop, about 5 minutes.
2.      Add the onion, apple, and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken, 5 to 10 more minutes. Transfer to a container and cool slightly.
3.      Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blossom.

from (submitted by foodelicious)
ginger, onion, apple, celery and cranberries
cranberries, raisin, sugars, spices and water
cranberries starting to pop
adding onions, celery and apple

Next time I might cook the onion and celery a little
first to soften them (although my friends remarked
that they kind of liked the texture this way).
cranberry, apple and fresh ginger chutney