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Butternut Squash Risotto With Pancetta

Updated on August 28, 2011
Butternut Squash
Butternut Squash

A Great Fall Dish

Risotto is a great dish to make and has many wonderful qualities. As Fall approaches, you will want to make this dish.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. As the heat of summer starts to recede, the feel and colors of Autumn remind me of life's cycles.

This brings me to this great dish. I got this off the Foodnetwork from Paula Dean. She isn't my favorite celebrity chef but this particular recipe caught my eye.

Butternut Squash Risotto

There is a whole process and technique to making risotto. Please see my article bottom of page, "Risotto Restaurant Style ", to indoctrinate you in how to make risotto.

Risotto always uses the following ingredients:

Arborio rice, shallots or yellow onions, unsalted butter, dry white wine (room temperature) and stock.

These ingredients will typically form the base of most risottos'.

What is Risotto?

Risotto is nothing more than a rice dish that expands as it absorbs stock and releases the wonderful starch and creates the creamy texture and taste that you love. The protein of the rice, if done correctly, will release the starch slowly as the stock is absorbed. If you "shock" the rice with cold fluids, it will not produce the quality you will be looking for in the dish.

Creating the Butternut Squash Risotto

Pick out a nice butternut squash and cut in half. Take a spoon and scrape out inside of squash, seeds and all so there is a nice presentation of the fleshy part of the squash.

Peel outside of squash and cut into cubes, approximately 2"x2" squares. Place cubes into baking sheet and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Place in oven at 400 degrees F and cook approximately 30-40 mins. Stir squash at least once while baking.

Remove from oven and set aside.

Pancetta is an Italian bacon that comes from pork belly. This bacon is not smoked but is salt-cured (Williams-Sonoma, "Risotto", page 114). This bacon is an excellent addition to the butternut squash as it will match up to the sweetness of the squash with the saltiness of the meat.

Brown pancetta in separate pan until crispy. Set aside.

Basic Risotto Process

See my article link below on how to make risotto.

Just before risotto is done, approximately 20 mins after addition of stock begins, add butternut squash and pancetta. Fold in squash and bacon and continue to cook until risotto is done. Depending on length of time squash cooks in oven will depend on whether it holds its shape in risotto. I prefer more texture so won't bake as long in the oven but you decide what you like best.

I always fold in around 1 cup of Parmesan cheese at the end and add another 2 tablespoons of butter to the risotto. Many recipe books will ladle in around another 1/2 cup of stock to finish. I don't usually do this but it's a matter of preference.

Plating Risotto

I usually will use a nice white bowl for plating to expose the wonderful color of this dish. I will add parmesan cheese to finish the plate.



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