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Today’s recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto was the delicious selection of Rachel of Rachel Likes to Cook and may I say kudos to Rachel for such a wonderful selection.
Butternut squash are in season right now and are plentiful in the supermarket. What is exciting (well I get excited about such silly things) is that some supermarkets make it easier than ever to work with butternut squash by providing pre-cut squash so busy cooks can skip the peeling and dicing and get right to the cooking. I can think of three (oh there are many more, but I’m just throwing out three) fabulous reasons why butternut squash should make it into your supermarket cart this fall:
It is a good source of fiber and vitamin C
It is an excellent source of beta-carotene
Its sweet nutty flavor just screams “The Fall”
Super tips for choosing your squash:
Look for firm squash with smooth all-over buff colored skin. Look for a “ball-shaped” bottom and a thick neck. Select the larger varieties for sweeter flavor.
The recipe calls for a teaspoon of saffron threads-which is a lot, but I think the saffron makes all the difference in flavor. Saffron can be very expensive in the supermarket so I would suggest trying to find it in a Middle Eastern Grocery Store. I found mine in a spice outlet store here in CT. where it was pretty inexpensive. Also use caution when buying your Arborio rice. In the rice aisle of the supermarket the Arborio rice was $1.00 a pound more than in the International Foods aisle! Watch those unit prices! While I am sure that Ina’s original recipe is absolutely divine I did make a few tiny changes. I forgot to buy Pancetta so I had to sub regular bacon and with that I could not bear to add all that butter, so I left it all out. I did use the bacon drippings so I’m not a complete low fat angel…but I also cut the Parmesan cheese in half. What was the result? Fabulous. I served the risotto with sautéed scallops and green beans and here’s the good news…it made so much that there’s plenty for lunch tomorrow (and probably dinner again)!
Butternut Squash Risotto (Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa)
Original Recipe here
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock
3 slices of bacon, 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
1/2 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. 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, sauté the bacon 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.