Saturday, October 31, 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto

Yesterday I was in the mood for a good fall meal. I also wanted to convince John that butternut squash is indeed delicious. The solution: Ina Garten's butternut squash risotto.

My favorite part about this recipe is that it calls for saffron, which really classes up the dish. Saffron tends to be expensive, but I found it at a reasonable price at (where else?) Trader Joe's.  John's favorite part of the recipe is that it contains a pork product (pancetta).  Don't be afraid to make risotto... it does require constant attention, but it's not difficult to make. The end result is a creamy, delicious and filling meal which successfully convinced John that butternut squash is tasty. Really, what's not tasty when combined with this much butter and cheese?

For a vegetarian version of this dish, you could easily leave out the pancetta and use veggie stock instead of the chicken stock.

Butternut Squash Risotto
by Ina Garten, from Food Network

  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (whatever, Ina... I used box o' stock)
  • 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


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

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. Mix well and serve. Serves 4.

Oh, and if you have any leftover butternut squash, your pet bearded dragon will really enjoy it.


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