Cold days…warm comfort food. Risotto is a must for chilly nights. I am serving it tonight to my childhood friend and her husband who just moved from the east coast. Warm risotto with a nice glass of wine and friends…is there any better way to kick off a weekend?
(By the way…this can be made with vegetable stock and without bacon if you are eating meat -free.)
Risotto with Butternut Squash, Leeks, Bacon and Saffron
1 1/2 butternut squash (peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes)- about 6-7 cups
2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt (I use sea salt, but any kind you like is great)
1/2 tsp freshly ground Pepper
6 cups chicken stock or broth, homemade or store bought
7 Tbs butter
5 slices bacon, chopped into 3/4″ pieces
3 ounces pancetta,(optional) choppped into 3/4″ pieces
1 leek- white and light green parts, chopped
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 cups dry Arborio rice (risotto rice)
1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp saffron (this can be omitted if you don’t have or like)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degress.
To a large bowl, add the cleaned and cut squash cubes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a sheet pan. Roast for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until tender. Set aside.
In a sauce pan, heat the stock until it is just about boiling, then cover and keep it on a low heat.
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the bacon, pancetta, leeks and shallots on medium to medium low until the shallots are clear, but not brown. Add the rice and be sure to stir it to coat it well with the butter. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add two cups of stock to the rice plus the saffron, salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the stock is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes. Continue to add the stock 2 cups at a time, stirring every few minutes. Cook until the liquid is mostly cooked into the rice and the rice seems dry, then add more stock. Continue this until your stock is gone and the rice is cooked through, but not mushy. (This should take around 30 minutes) Remove from the heat and add the squash cubes and the Parmesan. mix gently.
What do I love about this recipe? Well, I love anything with butternut squash, so that is a good start! I also love the creamy texture and the earthy taste of the saffron.
What don’t I love about this recipe? Well, the bad part is that it does need attending to because it IS risotto, afterall. (But it is worth it.)
***I’ve been reading that you can actually make risotto -partially -ahead of time, then let it cool down quickly and finish it off after company arrives.