One of the things I love most about fall is butternut squash. Sometimes I cut it into small cubes, toss it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it. Other times I'll cut it into larger cubes, boil them until they're fork tender, mash and add a little bit of sweetener (brown sugar or honey typically). Either way I love its earthy sweetness! It's so delicious that I've forgiven it for being difficult (and sometimes dangerous) to peel and cut :)
I've been meaning to try this butternut squash risotto since last fall so I'm relieved I finally made it a priority and can cross it off my to-do list. I'm also glad it's every bit as delicious as I'd hoped it would be! The creamy risotto pairs beautifully with the squash! I skipped the pancetta (I didn't have any on hand) and also decided not to heat the chicken stock before adding it to the rice. I'd seen Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen mention that she skipped heating the stock when she made risotto the other day and I'm all for trying anything that saves me from washing dishes. It didn't seem to make a difference so I'll definitely do it the same way in the future.
Butternut Squash Risotto
from Ina Garten (via FoodNetwork.com)
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced (I omitted)
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 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 oven to 400 F.
Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes - you'll have about 6 cups. Put the squash on a sheet pan, toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 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.