Smoked Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage Butter

Whist still suffering post festivity ‘I-can’t-face-any-more-meat’ syndrome I decided to try a comforting, colourful alternative writes Sandra Tate…

Smoking Butternut Squash

It is my belief that a little smoke goes a long way and that popping some vegetables into the Bradley Smoker for 20-40 minutes  without cabinet heat gives them enough smoke flavour to add nuance to a dish without overwhelming it. For mine I halved a medium butternut squash (from top to bottom) and scooped out the seeds, I place it in the cabinet with some heads of garlic and a couple of red ramiro peppers for good measure – I used some of the garlic but saved the rest for other occasions. If you want a more pronounced smoke flavour then by all means smoke for longer, or pre-slice the squash halves into 1cm thick slices and scatter loosely over a Bradley wire rack. I used apple wood bisquettes

Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage Butterserves 4
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Cut the butternut squash into 1cm thick slices and spread on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 25- and very tender.30 minutes, turning once during cooking time – the squash should be slightly colouring and very tender, set aside.

Heat 750ml chicken or vegetable stock in a saucepan. While the squash is roasting, peel and thinly slice a large shallot. Crush a large clove of garlic with a teaspoon of salt and mash to a paste with the side of a large knife. Melt 50g butter in asquashrisotto2 large sauté pan, add the garlic, shallot, black pepper and a pinch of saffron strands (cook over low heat for 4 minutes until softened but not colouring. Now add 275g arborio risotto rice to the pan and turn to coat with butter. Now turn the heat up and pour a glass of white wine in with the rice and as soon as it has been absorbed start to add the stock a ladle at a time (from this point it will take 15-20 minutes to cook). Once almost tender, fold in 75g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, taste and add ore salt if necessary,  and add leave to stand for a few minutes. Quickly melt and in a small skillet, add a handful of torn fresh sage leaves, and remove as soon as the leaves turn darker.

Divide the risotto between 4 warmed pasta bowls, top with smoked squash, hot from the oven, and spoon sage butter over the top. Serve immediately with Parmesan and grater available.