I posted the other day about roasted beet and goat cheese risotto. Before I ever tried that out I made short-cut risotto using my slow cooker. I admit that I started a blog post about it at the time, but hadn't finished writing it. I revisited the incomplete post, reminding myself how delicious the end result was. Now that squash season is coming back I look forward to making this again!
In an effort to cut down on cooking in the evenings, I try to maximize the use of my slow cooker. But I usually ended up doing the same recipe over and over. When I started hearing buzz about the new cookbook Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2 by America's Test Kitchen I knew it was something I needed to add to my collection. I don't have Volume 1, but from what I've heard there is a LOT of prep work that goes into the recipes in there. Volume 2 focuses on things with easy prep. This doesn't usually mean just chopping veggies and opening cans which is what I was used to doing. While the prep work is still pretty simple, you utilize the microwave and other shortcuts to making a great dish in the slow cooker both before and sometimes after the cook time is up.
Among the recipes that jumped out at me was Butternut Squash Risotto. I like everything in that title, but I had never made risotto before because it usually was done by standing over a stove for a long time. This recipe avoids that by microwaving the rice before cooking and adding hot broth to it from the start. I will say, though, that this is not the dish to make on a day you are putting on the slow cooker and going off to work. It only cooks 2-3 hours and I even if you have a timer I don't know how long it can be on 'keep warm' before it affects the outcome.
Of course I thought I had totally screwed up the whole thing because I hadn't read the blurb at the top of the page where it said to avoid the pre-cut chunks of squash and instead get a whole one or a halved & peeled one. My supermarket doesn't sell halved ones and I'm sorry, but I have no patience when it comes to peeling a butternut squash. I have other things I'd rather be doing (just about anything I can think of...). I cut the pre-cut chunks down to 1/2 inch pieces and I think that it came out just fine.
And the official verdict on this is that it just might be my husbands #2 favorite dish I've made (after my poached flounder). He would have to go back through everything I've ever made to decide if anything else was actually his second favorite, but this is definitely the best dish I've made in recent history.
Butternut Squash Risotto (from America Test Kitchen's Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2)
6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup chopped onion
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 lbs peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch slices (***while they like pre-cut & peeled squash, they recommend avoiding the pre-cut chunks which they find dry and stringy)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp minced fresh sage
- microwave 4 cups broth in bowl until steaming, about 5 minutes.
- in a separate bowl, microwave rice, onion, and 1 tbsp butter, stirring occasionally, until ends of rice kernels are transparent, about 5 minutes.
- transfer rice to the slow cooker and immediately stir in wine, and let sit until wine is almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- stir in hot broth, squash, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and cook until rice is tender, 2 to 3 hours on high.
- after the cook time is up, microwave remaining 2 cups broth in bowl until steaming, about 2 minutes.
- slowly stream hot broth into rice, stirring gently, until liquid is absorbed and risotto is creamy, about 1 minute.
- gently stir in peas and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- stir in Parmesan, sage, and remaining 2 tbsp butter (adjust risotto consistency with extra hot broth as needed).
- season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.