Roasted Butternut Squash Farrotto with Prunes and Fried Sage
Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
1 small butternut squash (about 2 pounds), halved lengthwise or 2 cups frozen defrosted squash puree (available in the frozen food section of many supermarkets)
Vegetable oil, preferably grapeseed, with a high smoke point for the sheet pan and for frying the sage leaves
36 sage leaves (from 1 small bunch)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups pearled farro (the quicker-cooking variety)
1/2 cup finely chopped prunes
1 cup dry white wine
1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Arrange the butternut squash cut side down, in a single layer on a parchment lined rimmed sheet pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife goes through the flesh with no resistance. Using tongs, turn the squash halves cut sides up and let them cool until they can be handled. Scoop out and discard the seeds, and then scoop out the pulp and set it aside.
Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a 4-quart saucepan to 360°F (tip the pan to take the temperature). Add about 6 sage leaves and fry them for 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and sprinkle them with salt. Repeat with the remaining leaves in small batches and set aside.
Pour off the oil from the saucepan, add the butter, and melt over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a bare simmer.
Add the farro to the softened onions, and cook, stirring, until all the grains are nicely coated with butter. Add the wine and the prunes, bring the wine to a simmer, and simmer until most of the wine is absorbed. Add half the stock, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the stock has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Add the remaining stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the stock has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cheese, squash puree, and salt and pepper to taste and cook just until heated through. Spoon onto 6 plates and top each portion with additional cheese and the fried sage leaves.