Roasted butternut squash & beef risotto with toasted pecans

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Roasted Butternut Squash and Beef Risotto with Toasted Pecans


In yesterday's entry, I was all "Yay Fall!" & expelling copious amounts of autumnal glee. Today, I'm just a meager few steps short of rolling in the leaves & slipping on a sweater for a hayride. :)

Following my autumn-flavored "cakies" of the previous entry, I decided to really up the ante & welcome the season with arms wide open. To the left there, that thing you've been ogling & probably salivating a little bit for is my roasted butternut squash & beef risotto with toasted pecans. Mmmm.


Nothing says fall like a good squash. I mean, one of the season's icons is the pumpkin! When I see a pumpkin, I immediately think of fall, the fact that this dish has that lovely fallish hue & is full of richly robust flavors with wooded undertones completes the package.
From the first mouthful, I was praising the season, wanting to construct shrines to it, wanting to name my first born after it! I bet you'll fall in love with this dish as well. Ready to sink your teeth into a plate of autumn?

You'll need:
1 butternut squash       9 ounces risotto rice
2 garlic cloves, diced   parmesan cheese
1 red onion                 beef stock
basil                           oregano
salt                            pepper
pecans                       olive oil
nutmeg                     cloves
a handful of beef cut into strips, then diced (Use as much as you want, basically.)
white wine (I have frozen cubes of leftover white wine that I use for cooking. I used 4 ice cube-sized pieces.)

Tip: Prepare everything before you start cooking so all you have to do is grab it when you need it.

Marinate Your Beef
Dice your beef strips and allow them to marinate in half of the diced garlic, cloves and a little bit of olive oil. (Never salt beef before cooking, it dries it out as the salt absorbs all of the moisture.)

Roast Your Squash
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. I went back and separated the seeds & spread them on a plate to leave for a few days so they could dry out, to be toasted later. Yummy. :)  Slice the squash into four pieces, leaving the skin on. Rub olive oil, salt, pepper, half of the garlic and a little nutmeg on the flesh of the squash. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes on 200C/400F.
When the squash is finished remove from the pan and allow to cool for a bit before scooping the flesh out of the skin into a bowl and mashing. When the pan is still hot, deglaze it using some of your beef stock. Simply pour a bit of the stock into the pan, swirl it around and return the contents to the rest of the stock. This will enhance the flavor of your risotto.

Making Your Risotto
Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in your wok/risotto pan.
Add your marinated beef once the oil is hot and fry for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the red onion and cook until softened.
Now add your rice. Coat evenly in the mixture before adding your white wine.
Once all the wine has been absorbed, begin by adding your beef stock, gradually. Continue stirring the rice and allow it to absorb the stock before adding more. You will probably spend about 15 to 20 minutes adding your stock and stirring your rice. It's tedious, but it's worth it and it works. This is the only way to properly cook risotto; it requires lots of love and attention. :)
When your rice is finished cooking, you should have a little bit of stock left over, remove it from the heat.
Add your mashed squash, a bit of parmesan, salt, pepper and basil and oregano to the risotto. Stir it all in, cover and allow to rest for a few minutes.
While it is resting, heat a pan until it's a medium-high heat. Do not use any oil. When the pan is warmed, toast your pecan pieces. This only takes a few seconds. Do not allow them to burn. Sprinkle some of the toasted pecans into the rice and mix. Use the rest to garnish your portions.

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