Squash Blossom Risotto
After a stroll through the fields at Fresh Run Farm, Chef Michael Tusk routinely returns to the kitchen at Cotogna with a new menu item on the docket. This week, he came back to the City with squash blossoms, inspired to make risotto.
200g Acquarello Carnaroli Rice (about a cup)
1/4 cup minced spring onion
3/4 cup dry white wine (any dry white wine will do, perhaps the one you’re drinking with your risotto!)
4 oz. squash blossom butter, split
32 oz. Cotogna vegetable stock
1/2 cup demi-sec tomatoes (optional - see recipe below)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 1/2 cup mixed squash, quarter inch diamonds
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
CHOOSE YOUR PLATES
Pick out the plates you’d like to use for your finished risotto and keep them warm in a 200° F oven. We do this for every dish in the restaurant. Hot food should never go on cold plates.
HEAT YOUR VEGETABLE STOCK
Pour the entirety of the vegetable stock into a 3 qt. stockpot and let come to a simmer. Hold until ready to use and have a ladle ready. You may not use all of it, but have it at the ready and hot!
PREPARING YOUR SOFFRITO
Peel and mince your spring onion. You want the size of the onion pieces to resemble the rice kernels. They will later melt away in the final product.
PREPARING YOUR VEGETABLES
Give your cherry tomatoes and squash a quick rinse under cold water. Cut each tomato in half and if large, in quarters. Lightly salt your tomatoes and reserve. Lop off the stem and bud of the squash, and dice into quarter inch diamonds
OPTIONAL FOR THE DAY BEFORE:
Turn your oven or toaster oven to the lowest setting (190° F if possible). Place a cup of your cherry tomatoes, whole, on a piece of parchment or silicone mat and let dehydrate for 2 hours. When the tomatoes are done, they should be wrinkled but still bursting with concentrated juices when you eat one.
MAKING THE RISOTTO
Take 2 oz. of your squash blossom butter and cut into half inch cubes. Set aside in the fridge. Have a lid ready that can cover your pan snugly.
In a medium saucepan on medium low heat, add 2 tablespoons of your remaining squash butter and let melt. Add your minced spring onions and a pinch of salt and cook for a few minutes until translucent and softened, 2-3 minutes.
In the meantime, make sure your vegetable stock is at a simmer.
Add your rice and coat with onion and butter mixture and turn up the heat to medium. Toast your rice for 3-5 minutes until the outside of your rice turns opaque. It should emit a toasty aroma. Do not skip this step! You are releasing the starches on the outside of the kernel. It will decrease the final cooking time as well add another level of complexity to the final dish. It is an essential insider tip!
Add all your white wine and let cook until no more liquid remains, stirring continuously as you go.
Start your clock! Your risotto is 13 minutes away from being done and ready to eat. Add just enough of your hot vegetable stock to cover the rice and stir to combine. Cook, constantly stirring until all the stock has been absorbed. Add another ladle of stock and stir before adding the next installment.
At the 5 minute mark, add your squash diamonds and tomatoes and gently stir in.
When you’ve have hit the 13 minute mark and the risotto is looking creamy, taste to gauge your desired texture. If it is a bit too al dente for you, add a little more stock and cook for 2 more minutes. (The Italians like it very al dente, but you may want it a bit softer.)
When the risotto is almost done to your liking, turn the heat to high and add one more addition of stock and bring to a “boil”. Immediately turn off the flame, add your cheese, cold squash blossom butter, a handful of basil and cover with a lid. Do not stir yet.
Note: On medium heat, your risotto should be happily reducing and gently bubbling. If your rice is not doing much, turn it up. If it is vigorously boiling, reduce the heat.
Let sit for 45 seconds. In the meantime, keep your remaining vegetable stock hot! If you run low on stock, just use hot water.
Remove lid. Stir the butter, cheese, and basil (and demi sec tomatoes, if using), and taste for seasoning. If the risotto is a bit stiff, add a splash of your hot stock to loosen. The consistency should be oozy and flowy.
Plate, top with additional basil and serve immediately!