“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.”
This is originally an Ina Garten recipe and I’ll admit that I’ve changed very little, only increasing the pancetta and as always, encouraging you to do the same and make it your own.
Many of you may feel that given the cost of saffron, that a full teaspoon is excessive. I did reduce the amount from the original recipe and I also reduced the amount of butter as I find pancetta already quite rich. That’s not to say I completely removed it because as we all know, everything is better with the addition of butter (this can also be said of cream!)
If you’re thinking to yourself “wow these look like chincey little cubes of butternut squash” you would be correct. They are pre-chopped and frozen which while an excellent alternate in a pinch is not a route I would normally go. I like squash cubes (or any other component to a recipe for that matter) to be substantial and attractive to set your eyes upon. I had a little kitchen accident recently that has made me a teensy bit knife shy where hard rinds are concerned. I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say that I am only 9 fingerprints away from a life of crime.
This idea of adapting a recipe to suit your personal needs is the point… as always I will enourage you to go with what works for you. Not every recipe, even from the brilliant Ina Garten, needs to be followed to the letter. I will say however that every recipe should be read through THOROUGHLY, like from start to finish, BEFORE you start cooking. Reason #1 is that there might be an important step that requires more time than you had anticipated and #2, you can plan ahead accurately how you will choose to adapt said recipe.
Menu Suggestion: This dish is so hearty and filling that you need nothing more than a lovely light salad on the side. It’s also enough of a show off in the flavour department that it wouldn’t like to be simply a side dish to a larger meal… let it be the diva it so deserves.
Wine Pairing: I can’t deny that I was surprised by Greg’s revelation that he was not a huge fan of his choice today. “Ok I’m going to recommend Pinot Grigio. My only hesitation is that I’m not a really big fan, but it’s a bit fruity and has really soft acid, both of which should compliment the squash and butter. Pancetta? Everything pairs with bacon.” Totally agree on the bacon though!
- 1 butternut squash, peeled, cubed
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 4TBSP butter
- ¾ cup cubed pancetta
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 1½ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6 cups chicken broth, heated
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Fresh flat leaf parsley or thyme, rough chopped
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Peel & cube butternut squash (do I need to say carefully?)
- Toss iwth 1 TBSP olive oil and a bit of S&P
- Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and toss them in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until tender and lightly golden.
- Set 6 cups of chicken broth to simmer
- In a large heavy bottomed pan melt 4 TBSP butter
- Add pancetta and stir occasionally until nicely browned.
- Add shallots stirring until translucent.
- Add saffron, stirring to combine
- Add Arborio rice, stirring to coat and continue to cook over medium high heat to lightly toast the grains
- Add ½ cup dry white wine, stirring until almost completely reduced
- *This is the part where you turn on some good tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in to your cooking pose and enjoy watching the deliciousness develop*
- Add the chicken broth ½ cup at a time, stirring all the while and only adding more broth when the previous addition has been absorbed.
- Keep the risotto moving - this is when the creamy happens!
- Once the grains are tender and the broth is gone, add the roasted butternut squash, stirring to combine.
- Remove from heat and add the cheese, adjust S&P as necessary
- Finish with some fresh chopped parsley or thyme if desired.
- Serve immediately!