Appetite For Instruction: Kabocha Squash Risotto

Recipe Demonstrated by Chef J Chastain of The 2nd Floor Bistro

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The year and, well, decade are coming to a close for us. It's time to stock up on confetti, silly New Year's hats and horns and of course, lots of Champagne to give this year a proper farewell.

In the past year on Appetite for Instruction we've demonstrated everything from Chef Neville Panthaky's (of Bengal Coast) Chicken Jungle Curry to Michelle Carpenter's (of Zen Sushi) Ceviche Martini. We even left the professional kitchen and invaded the homes of our City of Ate readers to watch them cook their favorite dishes, like B.J. Foley's Grammie's Mac & Cheese and Amy Green's award-winning Farmer's Market Burger.

Our personal favorites were always the cocktails, but that's just us. We tend to lean more towards things containing alcohol.

We decided to end the first year of Appetite for Instruction with a chef that was also coming off a great year. J Chastain of The 2nd Floor Bistro recently returned from a trip to New York City. He was there with Chef Scott Gottlich of Bijoux to cook a dinner for guests at the James Beard House. Chef J also mentioned that in the past nine weeks that The 2nd Floor Bistro has also nearly doubled its sales with the help of a better economy (for some) and the restaurant gaining more local clientele.

Today we have Chef J demonstrating Kabocha Squash Risotto, one of the new popular menu items that has helped with the success of the recent boost in sales.

Farewell 2009, we will see you again with more mouth-watering recipes in 2010.

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 cups carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups kabocha squash puree (recipe below)
1 cup wild mushrooms, sauteed
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
2 teaspoons thyme, fine chopped
2 teaspoons parsley, fine chopped
12 spinach leaves, fried
salt to taste

Kabocha Squash Puree:

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Step 1: Cut squash into quarters and remove seeds and put in a roasting pan. Brush with melted butter and dust inside with salt and brown sugar.

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Step 2: Put 1 cup of water in bottom of pan. Cover with plastic wrap and foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about and hour, until fork tender. Scoop out pulp and discard skin. Puree using just enough cooking liquid to make it spin in blender.


Kabocha Squash Risotto Recipe:

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Step 1: While bringing stock to a simmer in a sauce pot, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil as it heats. When oil ripples, add the onions and garlic and sauté 2 to 3 minutes.

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Step 2: Add rice and toast 2 to 3 minutes more. Add wine and cook it out completely, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle in stock in intervals, a couple of ladles at a time. Allow liquids to evaporate each time. Be patient--it's the key to good risotto.

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Step 3: Risotto will cook 18 minutes, total, from the first addition of liquid. Stir in squash and mushrooms the last 3 minutes of cook time, season with salt to taste.

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Step 4: In the last minute of cooking time, stir in butter, cheese, thyme and parsley. Garnish with fried spinach leaves if desired.


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