For the spice blend
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen or ground fennel
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 1 whole bulb garlic
- Olive oil, for drizzling plus 2 tablespoons
- 1 butternut squash, halved and seeded
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
- 1 pound sweet sausage with fennel, casings removed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups white wine
- 1 1/2 cups carnaroli or arborio rice
- 6 tablespoons butter
- A small bunch (about 16) sage leaves
- About 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Combine spice blend in a small bowl and reserve.
Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and transfer to oven to toast. Remove and raise heat to 425°F.
Cut the top off the garlic bulb to expose cloves. Drizzle with oil and wrap in foil. Place squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season with about half of the spice blend. Place foil-wrapped garlic and squash in the oven and roast about 40-45 minutes until the garlic is soft and the squash is tender. Cool to handle.
Squeeze garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl and paste; reserve. Scoop squash flesh from skin and purée in a food processor; reserve.
Bring stock with Parm rind to a simmer in a saucepot over medium heat. Reduce heat and keep warm.
Heat a drizzle of oil, half a turn of the pan, in a round-bottomed pan or a risotto pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown and crumble; remove to plate. Add about 2 tablespoons oil to the pan along with the onions. Stir to soften, 3 minutes, then add rice and season with remaining spice blend. Toast rice a minute or 2 then add wine. Stir to evaporate then add roasted garlic paste and about 1/3 of the stock. Stir vigorously, letting the stock absorb fully before repeating the process until stock is incorporated, about 18 minutes.
In a small pan, melt butter. Add sage leaves and brown butter while sage leaves crisp; remove leaves to paper towel.
To finish risotto, stir in the squash purée, 3/4 of the walnuts, the brown butter, cheese and half of the sage, crumbled.
Serve risotto in shallow bowls garnished with remaining walnuts and crumbled sage.