I love cooking with the produce of the season, especially squash. They look great sitting around the kitchen, you don't have to cook them the minute you get home and when roasted, they become caramelized and sweet. So, you can imagine how happy I was to see that the Barefoot Blogger recipe for this week featured butternut squash, one of which I happened to pick up at the farmers' market last weekend. Thanks for this week's pick go to Rachel of Rachel likes to cook, and can be found in the book, " Barefoot Contessa Family Style", pg 86, or here on the Food Network website. Nice job Rachel!
I only made one change to this recipe (believe it or not), and that was to cut back the butter to 4 tablespoons, which was plenty. Ina calls for 6, but I will list my 4 in the recipe here. My squash was about 3 pounds and yielded 7 cups, but I added it all in anyway, no problem. I highly recommend adding the saffron if you can get your hands on it at a reasonable price. The flavor that it adds is worth it. If you are have difficulty locating all the ingredients, try reading the musings of fellow BB's. They offer many good suggestions for substitutions, along with their results.
Speaking of results, the final results of this recipe are outstanding! I served this as the main course paired with a salad of romaine, roasted beets, goat cheese and golden raisins. The risotto is so creamy, filling and comforting. The recipe makes plenty for 4, and leftovers for 2. You can get this together in about 60 to 90 minutes if you roast the squash while the risotto is cooking. If you are new to making risotto, one word, patience. Don't crank the heat up and rush the cooking. Pour yourself a glass of wine, stay by the stove and keeping stirring. The results are worth it.
By the way, don't pitch those seeds! They are great roasted (like pumpkin seeds) and tossed into salads.
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tbl olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (I use pacific brand organic stock)
4 tbl unsalted butter
2 ozs 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. To peel, cut the ends off so you will have a flat surface to work with. Using a good vegetable peeler, just peel the outside off, working down to the bright orange flesh.
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 (I omitted the salt here due to the salt in the cheese and it was fine without it), 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.