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Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Sage and Bacon

by laine on November 21, 2011

Risotto..It’s a lot of stirring and you have to think about timing your quick breaks from stirring, so it’s best you have all your ingredients prepped and at hand when making this. My favourite thing about this recipe, other than the fact it’s topped with whole pieces of bacon, is the toasted squash seeds. They’re just like mini pumpkin seeds, but the shell is thinner. Getting them out of all those squash innards isn’t as tedious as it first seems. Just run a bunch of that gunk through your closed hand and the seeds will just pop out the other side.

This is a slight vatiation on a Jamie Oliver recipe. In the original there were roasted chestnuts (I’m allergic to tree nuts) and pancetta, where I used bacon. The recipe calls for you to lay the bacon, sage leaves and seeds over the squash during the last 10 minutes of the cook time. I put it in for 15 min, but I still thought the bacon would need a little more time to crisp up then that and I was right. So, once my squash was cooked I scraped the goods off into the roasting pan and put it under the broiler for several minutes. It gave me time to mix my squash into the risotto and the bacon and sage were toasty and crispy. Pancetta, sliced thin would probably crisp up faster than the bacon I had.

As suggested, I served it with a scoop of marscapone. Needless to say, it was deeelicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1/2 tbls coriander
  • 1/2 tbls crush dried chillies
  • 1 tbls olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cartons chicken stock (1000ml)
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1/2 tbls butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 head of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 cups of Arborio rice
  • 2 wine glasses of dry white wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 tbls of butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 12 slices of bacon
  • Handful of fresh sage, leaves picked
  • Reserved squash seeds, cleaned of goop
  • 6 heaping tbls mascarpone cheese (optional)

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Cut your butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Put these to one side. Cut the squash lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices. Dust the coriander, chillies, salt and pepper over your squash with a tbls of olive oil. Toss until completely coated. Line up snugly in a roasting tray and bake for around 30 minutes until the flesh and skin are soft to the touch. Now get all your ingredients ready and once the squash has been cooking for around 10 min. start making your risotto.

Heat the stock, and in a separate pan heat the olive oil and the butter. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring. Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer, so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring the creamy starch out of the rice. Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice. Is it cooked? Continue adding stock until the rice is soft, but with a slight bite. Check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Once the squash has been cooking for a half hour remove it from the oven. (This is where you need to carefully time your breaks from stirring, ideally right after adding in a ladleful of stock, since you probably aren’t done cooking your rice.) Layer the bacon over the squash. Mix the squash seeds and sage leaves with a little olive oil. Sprinkle over the squash and bacon and place back in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. (This didn’t happen for me, so I took my squash out of the pan and threw the bacon, sage and seeds back under the broiler until they were crisp)

Chop up the squash. It might  be quite mushy, but that’s fine. Add this to the risotto. Remove from the heat and add the butter and parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for two minutes. The longer you wait to eat it, the thicker it will become. It’s best a little soft and oozy. (Mine got a little thick while I was fiddling with my squash, bacon and such).

Serve topped with bacon, sage and seeds and a scoop of mascarpone on the side.

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