Brown Rice Risotto With Winter Squash

The meat or fish is totally optional; the chew and flavor are of course welcome, but this could be a fine vegan risotto. And as with any risotto, the leftovers have insane potential. Since a cup of brown rice produces around four cups of cooked rice, with all these substantial add-ins this recipe really serves four people, even as a main course.

The night I made it, there were two of us. The next night, I crisped maybe two ounces of chopped bacon in a little more olive oil, then scooped that out and sautéed a little more onion and a cup of peas (actually, frozen), cranked the heat and browned the leftover rice in there: instant fried rice, and never better.

Which brings me to the Parmesan. I consider it optional largely because I’ve come to prefer leaner, simpler risottos. Traditionally (I suppose), butter was the fat of choice, and Parmesan used whenever it was available and appropriate — that is, a good pairing. In restaurants at least, a big hunk of butter is often stirred in at the end of cooking to enrich the dish and take it over the top. (If you’ve ever wondered why your risotto is not as velvety and filling as that in restaurants, it’s because you have more of a conscience than most chefs.)

But I start with good olive oil and often omit the Parmesan, finishing the dish instead with a lot of chopped herb. The results not only showcase the rice and add-ins, they are also cleaner. If you want an even sharper flavor, you could add a bit of lemon juice at the last second.

TOTAL TIME
About 45 minutes

Salt
1 cup short- or medium-grain brown rice
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 medium onion or large shallot, chopped
Black pepper
About 2 cups winter squash in roughly 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
About 4 cups any stock (shrimp, chicken, lobster, vegetable, pork) or water
About 1 cup bite-size pieces of meat or shellfish (precooked is O.K.): sausage, pork, lobster, shrimp, chicken, etc.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

1.
Bring medium pot of water to a boil and salt it. Stir in brown rice, adjust heat so that water bubbles steadily, and cook without stirring, until rice is swollen and half-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain. (If you want to wait a bit before proceeding, spread the rice on a platter or sheet tray so it cools.)
2.
Put oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add onion or shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens, 3 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with oil, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then stir in the squash; add the wine. Stir and let liquid bubble away.
3.
Begin to add the stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring after each addition and every minute or so. When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. Keep the heat medium to medium-high and stir frequently.
4.
When rice is just about tender and mixture is creamy, stir in shellfish or meat and continue to cook, adding more liquid if necessary, until rice is tender. The final dish should be quite moist but not soupy. Add Parmesan if you’re using it, then taste and add more salt or pepper (or both) if necessary. Garnish with basil or parsley and serve.

YIELD
4 servings

Originally published with A Different Shade of Risotto

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: