Butternut Squash & Pancetta Risotto

I think a lot of people are put off making risotto for fear of overcooking or being chained to the cooker for hours on end.   Risotto really isn’t anything to be scared of – once you have everything prepared and to hand then it is simply a matter of 15/20 minutes stirring and you will be well rewarded for your efforts.  The most important thing is to stir almost constantly to help the rice release starch and to absorb the liquid, which should only be added one ladle at a time.

Serves 2.

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Half a butternut squash – peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 30g of butter
  • 4 slices of pancetta (or smoked rashers)
  • 1 small onion
  • 150g arborio rice
  • ½ glass of white wine
  • 800ml of chicken stock
  • 40g parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 180ºC and drizzle a baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Spread the diced butternut squash on the baking sheet, sprinkle with the black pepper and then using your hands toss the butternut squash in the olive oil to ensure it is evenly coated.  Put the tray in the oven to roast for approx. 20 minutes until the squash is soft.

Heat up your stock and keep to one side on a low heat.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat and add the pancetta and cook until nicely coloured, then remove the pancetta and place to one side on some kitchen paper.  Put half of the butter in the same pan and allow to melt then add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft.  Add the rice and cook for one minute stirring to ensure that the rice is evenly coated in the butter.  Then add the glass of wine and continue stirring – as the rice absorbs the liquid and releases starch it will be come creamier.  Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice you can add the first ladle of stock and continue to stir.  Once this has been absorbed by the rice add the next and so on.   After approx. 15 minutes test the rice – it should be soft but with a slight chalkiness in the middle and the risotto should have a nice loose texture if you allow it fall of the spoon but not be soupy or too liquid (do not feel that you have to use all of the stock if the texture of the rice feels cooked enough).  Stir in the remaining butter and turn off the heat.  Add the roasted butternut squash and grated parmessan and stir through.   Divide the risotto between two serving bowls and top with the cripsy pancetta.

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