YIELD: 4-6 servings

1 medium butternut squash, halved, seeds removed
olive oil, as needed
salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsps. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika

For the risotto:
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup hot water
6 Tbsps. unsalted butter, divided
½ white onion, finely chopped
½ lb. Arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

For garnish:
1 Granny Smith Apple, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. aged Balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Drizzle each half of squash with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. On a nonstick sheet pan, add squash, face down. Place in oven, bake until the flesh is golden brown and cooked through. Remove flesh, place in blender, puree.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, add pureed squash, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper to taste, mix; set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, add broth and water, bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer; hold. In a 5-qt. saucepan, over medium heat, add 3 Tbsps. butter, melt. Add onions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice, cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, stirring and cooking, until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute. Stir one cup simmering broth into rice, stirring and cooking constantly, keeping it at a simmer, until absorbed. Continue cooking, adding broth 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently, letting each addition be absorbed before adding next. Continue until rice is just tender and creamy looking, but still al dente, 18 to 22 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in Mascarpone cheese, 1 cup butternut squash puree, and remaining 3 Tbsps. butter. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with apple slices, drizzle balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.

Photo and recipe: Crave Brothers