It's hard to believe that you can start with a rock hard vegetable, add butter and heat along with a few other ingredients, throw in patience and love and end up with a luscious soul satisfying bowl of warm comforting golden goodness, isn't it?
There's no doubt in my mind that I'm the luckiest woman I know because not only was I spoiled absolutely rotten all day yesterday, but the The Big Guy cooked up a bowl of golden sunshine for dinner last night too. The fact that he holds the patience of Job means he's at his best when cooking fiddly things like risotto and he actually takes pleasure in standing at the stove stirring rice for 20 minutes straight. Imagine that!
Although he's well versed in the art of risotto making, this is his first adventure making a butternut squash version, and it certainly won't be the last if I have anything to say about it. He "chucked" up the squash (his word, not mine) topped it with a few pats of butter and roasted it in a cast iron pan in the hot oven for 40 minutes until beautifully colored and perfectly cooked then used the immersion blender to break it down, along with some chicken stock. That golden squash "soup" was the basis of his pot of autumny bliss.
Flavored with sauteed home cured pancetta (hit link for directions on curing your own) and onion he upped the anti at the end of the cooking time with a splash or two of sherry, a touch of cream and the last 1/4 cup of squash/stock mixture. Seasoned with salt and pepper, it was a true labor of love and absolutely incredibly delicious too.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Pancetta (inspired by Cooking Light October 2011)
1-1/4 pound peeled butternut squash, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3-1/2 cups chicken stock
4-1/2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry sherry (or more to taste)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Arrange squash pieces in heavy pan (we used cast iron) and dot with butter. Roast for 40 minutes or until squash is cooked and golden brown in color. Remove to a medium sized pot. Add chicken stock and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Bring squash/stock mixture to a boil, remove a quarter cup of mixture and set aside, then reduce pot to a slight simmer.
Heat a flat bottomed sauté pan over medium and cook pancetta until crisp. Remove to a bowl leaving drippings in pan. Add onion and sauté until onion is softened and transparent. Remove to bowl with pancetta pieces and set aside. Add oil to sauté pan, and return pan to heat. When oil is hot, add rice and stir to coat. Lower heat rice to medium low and slowly add squash/stock mixture, three quarters of a cup to a cup at a time, stirring constantly. Note rice/stock mixture in your sauté pan should be barely bubbling as it cooks. Continue to add stock until the rice no longer absorbs the liquid and is al dente in texture (about 18 minutes). Add back the pancetta/onion mixture along with the sherry. Continue stirring mixture to incorporate new ingredients. Add cream and reserved quarter cup of squash/stock mixture. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and coarse ground black pepper as required. Serves 4. Download Butternut Squash Risotto with Pancetta
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