Butternut Squash Risotto
From Ina Garten
I have a confession to make. We made this dish in January. Yes, 4 months ago. And I wrote the recipe up, took the picture, and then…nothing. My flimsy excuse is that I didn’t get around to posting it right away, and then once Lent started in late February I was trying to stick to meat-free posts to go with my meat-free Lent theme (there’s bits of pancetta in this), and then there were the Easter posts which took a few weeks, which brings us to today. Woops.
I actually waffled about posting it now, since it’s not really squash season anymore, but then what? I wait 6 more months before posting hands down the BEST risotto we’ve made in the HMK? That’s crazy talk. So here it is. Hopefully you can still find butternut squash in your grocery store because this is a must-make recipe. And if you’ve never tried making risotto before, fear not. Yes, you have to stand by the stove for a little while, but it’s fairly painless, especially if you fill your free hand with a glass of wine.
- 1 1/2 lb peeled, cubed butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp pepper, divided
- 6 cups chicken stock (I honestly believe that in risotto, more than anything, homemade stock makes a BIG difference, and at the very least, make sure you use store-bought STOCK, not broth, because stock is much richer)
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 2 oz pancetta, diced (check at the deli counter, near the salamis)
- 1/2 cup shallots, minced (about 2 big ones)
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads (Trader Joe’s has teensy containers of them for $6, which was the best price I could find)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese (we did use freshly grated, but just cheap parm, not Reggiano)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place squash on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Roast 30 minutes, tossing once, until tender. Set aside.
- Warm chicken stock in a small covered pot. Don’t boil it, just get it to a very light simmer.
- Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium low heat.
- Add shallot and pancetta to butter. Saute for 10 minutes, or until shallot is translucent, but not brown.
- Add Arborio and stir to coat with butter.
- Add wine and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add 2 ladles of stock, saffron, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to rice mixture. Simmer, stirring, until stock is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.
- Continue adding stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring frequently until each batch of stock is nearly absorbed. Continue the process until rice is cooked through, but still al dente. The only way to know is to taste it! You may not need all of the stock. It should take around 30 minutes, total, but seriously, go by taste, not time or stock amount.
- Remove from heat. Stir in squash and Parmesan. Serve warm.