The first of this season’s squash are here and it’s time to take advantage of all the gorgeous varieties available. This creamy, rich, velvety risotto is a wonderful platform for the beautiful flavours of sweet, nutty butternut squash.
1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons butter
1 minced shallots
2 ounces pancetta
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Rub the inside of the squash with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Place the squash flesh side up on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the flesh of the squash is fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough to be able to handle the squash. Once cooled, use a spoon and scoop out the flesh from the skin and set aside.
2. Pour the chicken stock into a small saucepan and cover it will a lid. Bring the stock to a simmer, then reduce heat to low to keep it simmering.
3. 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 the butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the simmering stock to the rice. Stir constantly and simmer until the stock is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 cups at a time, continuously stirring, again until the stock has been absorbed by the rice and then add more stock until the rice is cooked through but still as a bite to it or al dente, about 20 minutes. Season the risotto with salt and pepper to taste, add the nutmeg, remove from heat and gently stir in the squash and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.