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23 July 2006

Baked Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Almonds (Cooks Illustrated)

Baked Risotto with Butternut Squash, Sage, and Almonds

Serves 6 to 8

This dish is great when you’re entertaining and don’t want to spend time at the stove stirring risotto.

3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

1 onion , minced

Table salt

2 cups Arborio rice

3 cloves garlic , minced

Pinch nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads (optional)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash , peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

2 ounces Parmesan cheese , grated (1 cup)

3/4 cup toasted and sliced almonds

Ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring the broth and bay leaves to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and keep the broth warm over the lowest possible heat.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until lightly browned, about 9 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the edges begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, nutmeg, and saffron (if using) and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.

3. Spread the rice mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and add squash pieces and sage, stirring gently to combine. Pour the warm broth over the top. Bake until the rice and squash are tender and the liquid is absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. (You may need to increase the cooking time by 5 minutes to be sure the squash is cooked through.)

4. Stir in the Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with almonds before serving.