RECIPE: Risotto with Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and chorizo

My pal Steph who blogs at I’m Counting UFOs tweeted recently requesting inventive ways of cooking with the humble Brussels sprout for a blog post she is writing. I am a lifelong lover (and guffer, I’m sure) of sprouts, and recently cooked a risotto combining the tasty green articles with roasted butternut squash and spicy chorizo, so I ventured this information to Steph, who tried a version of it out yesterday and found it to be (and I quote) “almost sexual”. Sprouts described as sexual?! Well it would be rude not to blog the recipe, and spread the sprout sexuality to one and all.

Before you dismiss this recipe, I honestly believe the Brussels sprout is a highly misunderstood vegetable, with layers (geddit? Har har) of untold depth. Having been boiled to bollocks by pissed Christmas dinner-cookers everywhere for years, the sprout is undeserving of its reputation as a mere catalyst of sulphur to be unleashed on snoozing uncles during the Eastenders Christmas Death Special. Cook these little green gems in the right way and they are full of flavour, crunchy texture and antioxidants. They are basically tiny green super heroes with multiple capes. Give this recipe a try, and see if it doesn’t change your mind about sprouts. I promise, you won’t regret it…

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 125ml white wine
  • 800ml stock (I used veg stock)
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • An unknown weight of Brussells sprouts but I used about 15 medium ones
  • A finger-length of chorizo
  • Small handful of cheese (Parmesan is traditionally used in risotto but parmigiano reggiano or even cheddar are fine)
  • Paprika
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • Cube the butternut squash, throw into a baking dish and season with paprika
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes until it starts to caramelise

While the butternut squash is roasting…

  • Peel and trim the ends from the sprouts, then finely slice them
  • Cut the chorizo into small cubes
  • Heat a saucepan on a medium heat and drizzle in some olive oil
  • Add the sprouts and chorizo and fry off for about 4-5 minutes until the sprouts are just tender and the spices from the chorizo are coating them
  • Remove the sprouts and chorizo from the pan and set aside in a bowl (there is a good reason for this!), but try to keep as much of the spicy oil in the pan as possible, as this will give flavour to the rice
  • Finely slice the onion
  • Add a good glug of olive oil to the spicy oil already in the pan, then throw in the onion and the Arborio rice, stirring often until reddy-gold – this will take about 5 minutes
  • Pour in the white wine and cook off for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat down to a rolling simmer
  • Ladle in the stock gradually and stir often – you want all the liquid from one ladleful to cook off before adding the next lot – the rice should take about 15-20 minutes to cook in total – you want it to be tender and creamy but with a very slight crunch to the grains
  • About 5 minutes before the end of cooking the rice, remove the butternut squash from the oven, mash two thirds of it and add the mashed squash to the rice
  • A minute before the end of cooking, mix in the sprouts and the chorizo – the reason for adding them at this stage is so that the sprouts stay crisp and retain their flavour and nutritional benefit, and so that the strong flavour of the chorizo doesn’t overpower the dish
  • Finally, stir in the cheese
  • Serve topped with the remaining roasted squash cubes and a twist of coarse black pepper to garnish
  • Devour and let the “almost sexual” flavour take you over
  • Don’t start to take all your clothes off whilst winking at the sexual sprouty risotto because that would be really wrong… especially if you’re guffing
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