I’m sure I’ve said about 1000 times already that nothing screams comfort food quite like the start of autumn … but when that slight chill in the evenings starts, you better believe I am running over every recipe I can think of trying to cram them into my agenda for the next few months. Risotto is also one of my favourite things to cook! It’s a patient process and gets even better when you set the mood for a night of cooking — glass of wine to sip on while you work, jazzy music in the background, and a new candle lit for that cozy glow.
This butternut squash risotto is paired with creamy goat cheese on top that helps break through the richness of these salty, crispy, and rich pancetta nuggets as garnish.
- 1 medium sized butternut squash, cut into 1/2 pieces
- 1tsp of dried rosemary
- 1 medium cooking onion, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice
- 1/2 cup of a dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 1L of vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 slice of thick pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (ask your deli counter – if you can’t find, a few strips of bacon will work)
- salt, pepper, olive oil
Goat cheese + crispy pancetta
Butternut squash is such a versatile autumn veg. It’s earthy and mildly squashy. It can be prepared savoury with herbs like sage and rosemary but also lends well to sweet brown sugar and butter. Plus, it’s available all year round meaning you can improvise throughout the seasons depending on what you’re craving.
Start by preheating your oven to 400°F. Spread your squash out evenly on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and some dried rosemary if you have. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until the squash is tender and a fork can go through it easily. Set aside to cool once finished.
In a large pan, heat about 2tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent and soft. Try not to let them take on too much colour or get too crispy. At the same time, place a medium sauce pot on your back burner and let your broth come to a warm temperature. This can stay on a low heat for the duration of your cooking — you will need it for the risotto!
Once the onions are translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the arborio rice and allow it to toast in your pan for about 2 minutes. You’ll notice that the rice starts off as white and opaque, but you want to saute it with the onions until it also becomes translucent. (Toasting the rice adds nutty notes to the risotto!) Add your white wine and allow it to cook off – a few minutes at most.
Next, we add liquid to the rice to actually start the cooking process. Add 1 to 2 ladles of broth at a time, letting the rice absorb it over time as it cooks. Make sure to stir the rice often so that nothing sticks to your pan. When you notice that the bottom of the pan starts to look dry and you can move the rice in the pan without it dispersing again, it is time to add another round of broth. Repeat this step until you have about 1 ladle’s worth of broth left in your pot. (May take up to 15 or 20 minutes).
During this time, put a small pan on medium heat and add your pancetta to the pan. No additional oil is needed as there’s plenty of fat within the pancetta. Watch the pancetta as it won’t take long to render and cook to a perfect golden brown colour. Once cooked to your desired crispiness – remove with a slotted spoon to separate from the oil and set aside to cool. They will most likely darken as they cool and get crunchier.
TIP: If you notice that you are running out of liquid faster than the rice is cooking, you can either heat up some additional broth and continue the process. Alternatively, you can also lower the heat and cook the rice slower. You don’t want crunchy rice, but ultimately you want to ensure you time your last ladle of broth with the last bit of time you think it will take to cook the rice through.
Before adding the last ladle of broth, add the butter, parmesan cheese, and the butternut squash and combine together. Adjust the seasoning to taste and then serve immediately. Risotto is best when steaming hot and its texture is creamy and thick. If you let the risotto rest too long before serving, it’ll seize up on you as the fat from the butter and moisture from the broth cool off.
Top with creamy goat cheese , the salty bites of pancetta, and serve with your favourite white wine. I recommend the
As always, peace and good eats friend. Enjoy!