Naturally sweet pecans combine with butternut squash and parmesan – coated in bread crumbs and lightly fried – for a tasty dish.
For the Risotto
1 tablespoon olive or pecan oil + 2 teaspoons olive or pecan oil, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
2 shallots, minced
1 cup carnaroli rice*
1 teaspoon kosher salt + 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup roasted butternut squash (2 cups raw)
Pinch ground black pepper
1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces – Pecan Pieces
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces provolone, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
For the Breading
1/2 cup AP flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons pecan pieces
For the Frying
2 cups vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Place pecan pieces on a small baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown and aromatic. Once toasted, remove from oven, cool and set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Dice butternut squash into 1/2-inch cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch ground black pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool and set aside.
Warm a 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter and shallots; cook until shallots are soft and translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes). Add carnaroli rice and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and toast the rice for 2 minutes or until aromatic. Add white wine and cook until the pot is dry, stirring frequently. Once all the wine has been absorbed, add the vegetable stock in 1 cup intervals, stirring frequently, until all the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is tender (about 25 minutes) but still has a wave-like flow when stirred. Turn off the heat. Stir in the parmesan cheese, roasted butternut squash and toasted pecan pieces. Season with additional salt as needed, then transfer to baking sheet and cool completely in your refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight. (Note: this risotto would be perfect to serve as is, before cooling as a main dish or a side to any great dish).
Once the risotto is completely cooled (it will be firm to the touch), gather about 1 tablespoon of the cooked rice and flatten it into a disc in your hand. Place 1 cube of the provolone cheese into the center of the rice dish and wrap the rice around the cheese to form a ball. Roll the ball in your hand to create a uniform shape and set aside. Repeat until all rice and cheese is used.
Prepare your breading station: Place AP flour, beaten eggs, and panko breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Add pecan pieces to the panko breadcrumbs and mix. Roll the rice balls into the flour, coating completely. Shake off any excess flour and transfer to bowl with the beaten eggs. Allow the flour on the outside of the rice ball to completely absorb the egg and coat the rice ball. Finally, transfer egg-dipped rice ball into the breadcrumbs, and roll to coat the outside completely. Transfer all the breaded rice balls to a tray and allow them to sit at room temperature while the oil is getting hot (This will help the breading stick to the rice balls).
Meanwhile: Preheat 2 cups of oil in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Gently place the rice balls into the oil (no more than 6 at a time) and fry for about 3 minutes or until the outside is golden brown and crispy and the inside is about 120 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs, transfer the cooked rice to a baker’s rack to cool slightly before serving. Season with salt and serve.
*Recipe note: You can substitute arborio if you can’t find carnaroli rice