Butternut Squash Risotto

Remember my grocery shop?  Yes, I still had that big ole Butternut Squash hanging around.  An impromptu dinner with girlfriends last night gave me the perfect opportunity to whip up a Butternut Squash Risotto.

I love risotto when cooking for a group. Its hearty but special enough for a group dinner. Plus, all the stirring keeps you in the kitchen, where people tend to gather anyway, so it becomes part of the dinner entertainment. “Hey friend, stir this risotto with me!”
Fun, right?

This particular risotto might be a new favorite. The peppered bacon adds great savoriness, while the shallots and white wine keep it delicate. The butternut squash adds the heartiness and a touch of sweetness, and the parsley and Parmesan cheese  finish it off on a fresh, but umami-filled note. Swoon.  Make it the next time everyone’s in the kitchen.
IMG_7980

Butternut Squash Risotto
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Recipe
1 medium (about 2 lbs) Butternut Squash, peeled
2 tbs olive oil
2 oz center-cut peppered bacon, diced
2 large shallots, peeled and diced
2 tbs butter
2 oz white wine (or vegetable broth)
10 oz Arborio Rice
8-10 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 c. parsley, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
1/2 c. shaved Parmesan cheese
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350. I find the easiest way to chop squash is to cut in half, so the bulb is separated from the stem. Slice the stem in-half vertically and then dice as you would normally. Slice the bulb in half vertically and dice normally as well. The pieces should be in a 1″ dice. Spread in one layer on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, liberally add salt and pepper. Bake until fork-tender (about 30-40 minutes). Note: You may need to adjust the heat to whatever you roast vegetables; my oven runs hot; so 350 is enough, but you may need to increase the heat to 425.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the risotto. In a large, deep pot, cook bacon over medium heat. I love the peppered bacon here as it adds a great punch; but pancetta or regular center-cut bacon is fine. Cook until bacon is pink, add shallots and butter. Sprinkle in a bit of sea salt and black pepper. Toss together and cook until bacon is crisp, shallots are soft and the butter is cooked off. Deglaze the pan with wine (or vegetable broth); be sure to really get all the bits up from the bottom.  Stir rice in so its coated in the buttery delicious mix. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Now the fun part: reduce the heat under the pot to low-medium and slowly add broth (about 1 cup at a time) stirring constantly. The rice should absorb the liquid, but not stick to the pot. Keep stirring and adding broth until the rice takes on a gorgeous creamy consistency and is tender to the bite (about 45 minutes). You may need more or less broth depending on your risotto.  By now, the squash should be fork-tender. Stir the squash into the risotto (you may need a bit more broth here as you stir to keep the creamy consistency).  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in parsley and parmesan cheese. Taste here, add salt and pepper before serving.  Serves 6-8 and makes incredible leftovers.

IMG_7981Served alongside an Arugula & Tomato Salad with shaved Parmesan cheese and Mission  Figs (with a homemade Fig vinaigrette) courtesy of my lovely friend PJIMG_7983

Risotto, bringing people together.

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