Everyone has their favorite comfort foods. I have several and risotto is at the top of the list. I find it relaxing standing at the stove, with a glass of wine in one hand and stirring risotto with the other. It’s also nice watching my 14 year old daughter stirring the risotto while I’m holding a glass of wine. Either way is relaxing. A lot of people are scared to make risotto and you shouldn’t be. The only thing is time. If you can devote about 30 minutes to standing at the stove you can make a great risotto. For those who aren’t sure what risotto is, it’s the Italians version of a rice dish. Nice a creamy and oh so good.
Butternut Squash is in season and goes great with risotto. The roasted butternut squash gets caramelized and a bit sweet. Saffron is also a star in the risotto. Saffron can be a bit expensive but it’s worth it for this recipe. When I know I want to make risotto I make sure to have homemade chicken stock on hand. I can’t stress enough how much better risotto is with a homemade stock. It really does bump up the flavors. If you can’t find pancetta, bacon will make a good substitute. You can serve this as a main meal or a side. I made the risotto and served it with a roasted chicken, arugula and spinach salad with apples and dried cranberries. It made the perfect fall meal.
Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
- In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.
Source: Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten