What I love most about this risotto is that it feeds a large horde of people in one fell swoop. That’s my holiday dinner party trick: When in doubt, serve rice. It fills people up and lets you focus on other aspects of the night, like the cheese board, salad, and dessert. But this risotto is also simple enough to manage on a weeknight, should you be of the camp that finds great solace and comfort in stirring rice for 18 minutes straight. You can pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on the music, and stir your way to relaxation. —Eric Kim
butternut squash, peels and seeds removed, roughly chunked
mixed wild mushrooms, especially oyster, shiitake, and chanterelles
salt and pepper, plus more to taste
fresh bay leaves
6 to 8 cups
chicken stock, heated
freshly grated Pecorino Romano, plus more to taste
In This Recipe
In a large Dutch oven, boil butternut squash in salted water until fork-tender. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add half of the mushrooms and sauté on high heat until deeply brown in color and caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper, remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining mushrooms. Set aside for later.
In a mini food processor, finely blitz shallots, garlic, and celery. Melt butter in the Dutch oven (without wiping it clean from the mushrooms). Add shallot-garlic-celery mixture, bay leaves, and dried thyme and sauté over low heat until shallots are translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in arborio rice, coating each grain in the shallot-y butter and toasting the rice slightly, about 1 minute.
Splash in the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot, scraping up any flavor bits. Once all the liquid has evaporated, lower the heat to medium and add a ladleful of stock (about 1/2 cup), stirring constantly until absorbed by the rice. Repeat with the rest of the stock, one or two ladlefuls at a time, until the rice is cooked to your liking (I like my grains plump but with a bite in the middle). This process from start to finish takes about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside to finish cooking, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, purée the cooled butternut squash with a hand blender along with heavy cream and the egg yolk. Fold squash mixture into risotto; it should melt gorgeously into the rice and loosen it a bit. Stir in the cheese and half of the cooked mushrooms. This is the stage at which you should taste for seasoning; add more salt and pepper if needed.
To serve, spoon the risotto onto each plate and top with the remaining cooked mushrooms. Finish with a dusting of Pecorino.
Eric Kim is a Senior Editor at Food52, where his weekly solo dining column, Table for One, runs every Friday morning. Formerly the Digital Manager at Food Network, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.