Break down the squash. Cut the stem end off the squash, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp from one half. Reserve the other half for another use. Slice the squash lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes.
Cook the squash. Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce the heat and keep at a simmer. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and cook until the squash is tender, 10 to 15 more minutes. Use a wooden spoon to partially mash the squash, pressing it against the side of the pan.
Make the risotto. Stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper. Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and cook, stirring, until absorbed. (Don't add too much stock at once, and make sure it is hot; otherwise, it will stop the cooking process.) Continue adding stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more.
About halfway through, add more salt and pepper to taste. The entire cooking process takes about 20 minutes; start tasting for doneness after about 15 minutes. If you've used all of the stock and the rice is not yet al dente, heat a few cups of water and add ladlefuls as you did with the stock until the dish is done. The risotto is done when you can drag the spoon through the center of the pan and make a clean line in the rice for a few seconds. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
Serve the risotto. Transfer to serving bowls or a platter and top with Parmesan and parsley. Never leave finished risotto in the pan-it will keep cooking into a mush.
Photograph by The Ingalls
Butternut squash is the perfect addition to risotto in the fall, but you can try other vegetables, too. Gabriele recommends mushrooms or zucchini.
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine
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