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Risotto with Winter Squash, Radicchio and Ham

 (from Piatto Unico, by Toni Lydecker

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 3 or 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • Half of a small butternut or other winter squash about 8 ounces*
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth or a mixture of half broth and half water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped shallot or onion
  • 1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup white wine or 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup firmly packed shredded radicchio
  • 1 small thick-cut slice Italian prosciutto cotto or any baked or smoked ham diced in small cubes (about 1/3 cup)
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or other aged grating cheese
  • ¼ cup snipped chives or flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, crumble the saffron into ¼ cup water. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler and dice in ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups).  Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, stirring to coat the pieces. Roast until tender and lightly browned on several sides, about 20 minutes. Stir half way through the cooking.
  2. Bring the broth to a boil and adjust the heat to a slow simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan or wide-bottom saucepan, melt the butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until golden.  Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or so, until the grains are coated and smell toasty.  Add the wine, stirring until absorbed.
  4. Ladle on enough of the hot broth to cover the rice. Simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more broth as the liquid is absorbed. After about 10 minutes, stir in the roasted squash, radicchio and the ham.  Cook until the rice is cooked through and the radicchio softens but does not lose its color and crunch, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
  5. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano, saffron water, and a final ladleful of broth (you may not need it all). Allow the risotto to collect itself for about 5 minutes.
  6. Serve in shallow soup bowls, garnishing with chives or parsley if you wish.

Recipe Notes

* To make peeling easier, cook the whole squash for 15 minutes at 425°F; cool and continue as described; roasting time will be a little shorter. Or buy peeled, cubed squash in the produce department.