This week on Basics, we're taking a look at risotto. Normally rice plays a supporting role, but in this dish it's the star of the show. I'm going to show you how to make both standard risotto and butternut squash risotto and then how to turn the leftovers into arancini.

Equipment List

For standard risotto:

Pressure cooker

Cheese grater

For butternut squash risotto:


For arancini:

Dutch oven or fryer

Thermometer for frying oil

Shopping List

For the standard risotto:

  • White onion
  • Risotto rice (like arborio or carnaroli)
  • Dry white wine
  • Chicken stock
  • Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives (garnish) 


For the butternut squash risotto:

  • 1 whole butternut squash
  • White onion
  • Risotto rice (like arborio or carnaroli)
  • Dry white wine
  • Chicken stock
  • Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh sage
  • Unsalted butter
  • Maple syrup
  • White pepper
  • Bacon (cooked)


For the arancini:

  • All purpose flour
  • Mozzarella or jack cheese (something melty)
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying
  • Leftover risotto
  • Tomato sauce (for dipping)

Method: Standard Risotto

  1. Set your pressure cooker to its hottest or “browning” setting. Add one diced white onion to the pressure cooker and stir, sweating the onions.
  2. Add 2 cups of risotto rice to the pressure cooker (recommended: arborio or carnaroli rice). Stir to toast the rice for one minute, until edges become translucent.
  3. Deglaze with ½ cup of white wine. Continue to saute until all of the alcohol has cooked off.
  4. Next, add 4 cups of chicken stock. Stir and make sure no rice is stuck to the sides of the pressure cooker.
  5. Lock the lid on your pressure cooker and cook on high for 5-6 minutes. Make sure to let steam escape through the quick-release steam valve before opening cooker.
  6. Grate a lot of parmesan (a lot!) into the risotto and season with salt and pepper. Stir.
  7. Serve garnished with more parmesan and chives for garnish.


    Method: Butternut Squash Risotto

    1. Trim a butternut squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides from the cavity.
    2. Place squash on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub all over the flesh of the squash. Put some fresh sage into the cavity of each half of squash. Lastly, sprinkle with salt and pepper and flip the squash over so it is cut-side down on the baking sheet.
    3. Bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes, or until a paring knife shows little to no resistance when pierced through the flesh.
    4. Scoop out all of the squash flesh and place it into a blender, but reserve 1 cup of the flesh for later.
    5. Add some chicken stock to the blender, just enough to help make it into a puree. Add a little, blend, and check for consistency. Add chicken stock until puree consistency is reached.
    6. In a stock pot, sweat a small onion in some olive oil over medium heat.
    7. Add 1 cup of rice (arborio or carnaroli) and stir. Deglaze the pan with a glug or two of dry white wine.
    8. Simmer over high heat until the smell of alcohol has cooked off, stirring constantly.
    9. Now it’s time to slowly start adding the chicken stock. You should have the chicken stock gently simmering in a different pot. Add a couple ladles at a time and stir constantly. Once you are able to drag your spoon across the bottom of the pot and it leaves a trail of exposed pot behind it, add 2 or 3 more ladles of hot chicken stock. Keep repeating this process of adding stock and stirring until you can see the bottom of the pot when scraped, all while keeping the pot at a medium simmer. Do this until the rice is almost fully cooked (toothsome).
    10. Next, add the butternut squash puree and stir to combine. Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the rice is complete.
    11. In a separate pan, fry sage leaves in some butter until the butter starts to turn brown. Once you see the milk fats start to solidify and darken, remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a container to cool. Remove the fried sage leaves and set aside.
    12. Add a few tablespoons of maple syrup to the risotto along with a little bit of the browned butter. Also grate in a lot of parmesan and stir until everything is melted.
    13. Roughly chop your reserved butternut squash flesh and add it to the pot for some texture. Stir and season with kosher salt and white pepper.
    14. Plate the risotto in a bowl. Top it with some more browned butter and then top it with some chopped (cooked) bacon. Next, add some parmesan shavings to the bowl. Lastly, top it off with some of the fried sage leaves.



    Method: Arancini

    1. Make a thin slurry of water and all purpose flour.
    2. Grab a small (latke-sized) ball of leftover risotto and flatten it into a pancake with your hand. Take a cube of mozzarella (or other cheese) and press into the middle.
    3. Use your hands to form the risotto into a ball around the cheese.
    4. Coat the ball in the water-flour slurry and then add it to a bowl to cover it with panko bread crumbs.
    5. Drop the balls into a deep fryer or a dutch oven filled with vegetable oil, set to 350°F. Fry for 7-10 minutes, flipping occasionally until they are crispy and golden brown all over.
    6. Set aside to dry on a paper towel. Plate them and serve with warm tomato sauce.


    Devin Monaghan