Butternut Squash–Mushroom Risotto
A butternut squash mantecatura unctuously blankets my mushroom risotto and dyes it a glorious orange-gold. This is the purest celebration of autumn: bounty and harvest in a bowl.
2 pounds butternut squash
Salt and pepper
1 pound crimini mushrooms
1/2 pound oyster mushrooms
4 small shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 bay leaves, bruised
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup vermouth rouge
2 quarts vegetable stock, heated
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup cream, optional
Pecorino Romano, grated, optional
White truffle oil, optional
First, roast the butternut squash in olive oil, salt, and pepper at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. Allow this to cool as you prepare the risotto.
In a large pot or dutch oven—on high, high heat—saute the mushrooms in a little oil, salt, and pepper, browning and caramelizing externally but maintaining their bounce internally. Set aside for later.
Process or finely chop the shallots and garlic. In the same pot that the mushrooms were in, saute the alliums in oil, salt, and pepper over low heat. Once softened, add the celery seed, thyme, and bay leaves, and heat through for a few minutes. Stir in the arborio rice, coating each grain in the oniony oil and toasting slightly. Splash in the vermouth and deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping up any flavor bits.
Once the alcohol has evaporated, lower the heat and slowly ladle in the stock (one or two ladlefuls at a time), stirring until fully absorbed by the rice between each addition. This terrible process requires some patience, but the rewards are plenty: keep stirring until the rice is perfectly al dente (to the tooth), about 20 minutes. When the rice is cooked to your liking (I like mine with a slight bite in the middle), cover and proceed with the mantecatura.
For the mantecatura: Puree the butternut squash in a processor along with the egg yolk and cream; this will be very thick, but don't worry. Stir it into the risotto, and it should melt gorgeously into the rice. Finish with a fresh dusting of Pecorino and a few dainty drops of white truffle oil.