(1) large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
(3 tbsp) St. Helena Olive Oil EVOO
(6) sprigs thyme, plus a few additional for garnish
(1/2 cup) Balsamic Vinegar Methode Tradizionale
(2 quarts) vegetable stock
(6 tbsp) unsalted butter, divided
(1 cup) thinly sliced leek
(2 cups) Arborio or Carnaroli rice
(1/2 cup) dry white wine
(1 1/4 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Roast the Squash — Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a large sheet tray, toss the butternut squash pieces with the EVOO and a couple of pinches of Kosher salt. Scatter the sprigs of thyme on top and transfer to the preheated oven to cook. Flip the squash after 15 minutes and cook an additional 10-15 minutes on the second side, or until the squash is tender and slightly brown around the edges. Set aside.
Make the Balsamic Drizzle — Meanwhile, in a small non-reactive saucepan, add the BV Tradizionale. Simmer over low heat until the balsamic has reduced by half and has become a syrupy consistency (will yield ~1/4 cup total), about 5 minutes. Make sure to watch it closely and swirl it around intermittently to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.
Make the Risotto — Heat the vegetable stock in a stock pot over medium heat until warm. Turn off the heat and cover the stock with a lid.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add 4 Tbsp of the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the leeks along with a pinch of kosher salt and cook until the leeks are soft but not brown, about 3-4 minutes.
Add the rice to the softened leeks. Stir to coat the rice and cook for a couple of minutes until the rice has turned opaque, about 2-3 minutes. You don’t want the rice to brown, so turn down the heat, if necessary.
With the heat on medium-low, add the white wine and stir. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, add about 1 cup of the warm stock. Stir often, about every 20-30 seconds. Once the majority of the stock has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladle-full of stock.
Repeat this process — adding 1 cup of stock and stirring about every 20-30 seconds until the rice has absorbed each addition of stock. Continue until all of the stock has been used and the rice is cooked to al dente, about 20-30 minutes.
Turn off the heat and fold in the roasted butternut squash, grated parmesan cheese, and remaining 2 Tbsp butter.
Serve in bowls and finish with a generous drizzle of the balsamic reduction and a couple sprigs of thyme. Serve immediately.
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