Of rice and men

Healthy option kicked in last night. The men of Casa Rosada chose Risotto for dinner.The thespian cooks up a mean risotto and none better than my favourite, his butternut squash.Pumpkin is eaten all the year round in Portugal,as is aboborinha ( butternut squash). 

The Portuguese have never adopted risotto as such, but they have many risotto- esque dishes such as seafood rice.The closest Portuguese equivalent to risotto that I have found is Pato com arroz (Duck with rice) in which the duck is cooked in water and then the resulting stock is drained off to cook the rice. Halfway through the cooking, the rice is transferred to an ovenproof dish and with the addition of butter is finished in the oven. The pre-cooked duck is then shredded and added to the rice.The dish is then returned to the oven.A combination of traditional and oven cooked risotto.If cooked properly this dish is delicious..
`Refogado´ is to the Portuguese what `Soffrito´ is to the Italians. Onions are fried together with olive oil, or some other fat, over a very low flame until they are soft and translucent - and this is the basic procedure for countless dishes. This mixture with the addition of garlic and tomato, as well as parsley makes up the mixture for `refogar´- the frying process.A soffrito is the classic Italian base for risotto,but to make a Portuguese risotto I prepare a refogado. The flavour  can be altered by adding different types of onion or herbs. For soup bases I use finely chopped coriander stalks, or for a sweeter flavour,. parsley stalks, carrots and celery. The flavours are gently coaxed from the vegetables allowing them to blend and form a base for whatever dish you are preparing.

 The Thespian´s butternut squash risotto
( serves 2 )

3 large shallots peeled and  finely chopped
2 garlic cloves grated with a microplane
75g / 3oz unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g /  8oz of butternut squash,peeled de seeded and diced
175g /6 oz Arborio Rice
750 ml (1.5 pints) home made vegetable stock or Marigold Bouillon
6 sage leaves finely chopped
small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons grated parmesan 
Fry the garlic in the butter and oil until coloured. add the shallot and squash, and cook gently so that the latter softens,add the rice and sage and stir to coat in the squash mixture. Add ladlefuls of stock one at a time, stirring continuously until it is all used up and the rice is creamy. This should take 18-20 minutes.Stir in some salt and pepper, the parsley 2 tablespoons of butter and Parmesan.

FOR A RICH FINISH- add a tablespoon of mascarpone at the final stage.


  1. Oh good lord that duck with rice dish sounds incredible! I love the butternut squash one too but ooh yeah baby. Rice and duck!


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