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This risotto nearly inspired a haiku poem, from which I will kindly spare you.  This was one of those rare and divine moments where you throw a few things you have on hand together, the heavens part, and you know that you couldn’t have designed a dish to marry flavors like this.  The juicy smoky grilled chicken, the creamy, spicy risotto, and the sweet squash all come together to make a taste bud happy.  I know that the risotto takes a little stove time, but it’s well worth it.

1lb. Aborio Rice
30 oz. Vegetable/Chicken Stock
A wine glass-full of Dry White Wine
3-4 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
A small handful fresh Sage Leaves
Salt/Pepper
Fresh Parmesan Cheese, Grated (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

1 med. Butternut Squash, cut in half and de-seeded
Olive Oil
Cinnamon, ground
Cayenne Pepper, ground
Salt/Pepper

4-6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (depending on size)
Whatever seasoning you like (I used Emeril’s Essence, since I received a free bottle the other day.  It was really pretty good to.  Just a little bit spicy and smokey).

Rub chicken in whatever seasoning you’ve chosen.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a baking dish large enough to hold the squash, place squash flesh side up in the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, and then sprinkle with cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper (just until lightly coated with each…easy on that cayenne).  Place in the oven and roast for about an hour.  About half-way through the baking time, start the risotto.

butternut squash

In a small- med. size saucepan heat the broth over low heat.  In a large saucepan drizzled with olive oil, heat the garlic on med-high heat for about 2 min.  Add the A. Rice and cook for an additional 2 min.  Add the wine and stir until absorbed.  Then add about a ladle-full of broth to the rice, stirring constantly, until absorbed.  Repeat until all of broth is used and rice is soft and creamy, stirring constantly.  About 10 min into cooking the risotto, throw your chicken on the grill and cook for about 10 min per side (about 20 min total). You should be able to walk away from the risotto just long enough to throw this on a grill pan or the outside grill, but make sure to run back in start stirring ASAP.  You’ll need to get back to the risotto before it turns into gum paste or burns (don’t worry about the chicken—-she can take care of herself until the 10 min flip).

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Once your risotto is done, your squash should be ready to come out of the oven.  Take the skin off, scooping the flesh out with a spoon.  Add the squash to the risotto, as well as the sage, and salt and pepper it to taste.  Slice your chicken (which should now be ready to come off the grill), and sprinkle the risotto with some of the Parmesan.  Garnish with sage if you like and enjoy.

(Serves 6-8, depending on portion size)

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