roasted acorn squash & Italian sausage risotto

Ahhhh, we eat well here at the Dearth house, and this evening is no exception. An afternoon of wine tasting has inspired this dish for a rainy night in the Northwest. Serve with Brian Carter Cellars Solesce, 2007, and enjoy!

1 acorn squash
olive oil
salt & pepper
2 links hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons butter, divided
6 fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)
¼ cup onion, minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup Arborio rice
¾ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Madeira

Cut acorn squash in half; place on small baking sheet or pan. Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter, generously salt and pepper. Place in preheated oven for about ½ hour, until soft when pierced with a knife.

Meanwhile, in large deep skillet over medium high heat, cook sausage, breaking up, until it begins to brown. Remove from pan, reserve the sausage but discard fat. Clean pan and return to cook top.

Meanwhile, heat stock over low heat. Keep warm.

In large deep skillet, 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the age leaves and cook until the butter begins to brown and the sage is crisp. Add onion, cook 3 minutes longer, until onion begins to soften. While stirring, add rice, pouring it in “like rain,” so that each grain is separate. Continue sautéing and stirring about 4 minutes more. Rice will become slightly more opaque.  Add wine, lemon juice and pepper, stirring.

As you stir, drag the spoon across the bottom of the pan; when you can see the dry pan at the bottom as you drag the spoon across, add about 1?4 cup of the hot chicken stock. It is important not to let the rice dry out at this point. Continue cooking and stirring. Each time you see the dry pan add about 1?4 cup of stock until all of the stock has been added. This will take about 20 minutes. Taste for doneness. The risotto should be slightly chewy in the center, or “al dente” as the Italians call it.

Score the cooked squash and scoop out, into the risotto, stirring to combine. Add the cooked sausage, then stir in the half of the Parmesan cheese. Finish with the Madeira and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Serve immediately, topped with remaining Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

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