Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

There is a lot of fear and hype surrounding risotto, considering it's basically just a bunch of rice. I often think of a line from Julian Barnes in his book Pedant in the Kitchen: "As any domestic cook who's ever made one knows, it's virtually impossible to do anything in the final 20 minutes or so except stir, add liquid, worry; stir, add liquid, worry..." Most of these risotto fears, though, are unfounded. If you let it cook slowly and add the liquid little by little, the results are usually good and sometimes sublime.

Still, I was tempted enough by this recipe's technique, from this month's Everyday Food, to try it: rather than trying to slowly coax out the starch from the rice, the liquid is added all at once, then the pot is covered and slipped into a hot oven. The radiant heat from all sides dramatically speeds up the cooking process (it was done in about 20 minutes), and allows you to do a little less worrying and little more setting the table.

It was certainly tasty—and possibly worth the saved sanity—but it was more like rice with vegetables than that magnificent creaminess. It lost a little elegance. Next time I'd use the exact same ingredients and spend the extra time to get it right.

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