• Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

    I’ve been working my way through my current cookbook collection determined to actually make more of the recipes before I buy a new book.  I have avoided making risotto myself, even though I love it, due to the amount of babysitting it requires.  I found it requires the same amount of babysitting as a stir-fry, is technically very simple and is done in 30 minutes.  The saffron could just be omitted, but I purchased mine at Trader Joe’s where they sell it in little bottles for five dollars.  It contained the exact amount I needed.  Five dollars may seem ridiculous, but with homemade stock, inexpensive rice, and if you used one or two slices of regular bacon instead of pancetta (I also got my pancetta pre-cut at Trader Joe’s), the price per person evens out to be reasonable considering this is a main dish.  Pair a big bowl with a nice salad and you have an amazing and filling meal fit for 4 to 6 people.

    Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash from The Barefoot Contessa Family Style Cookbook


    • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Kosher salt
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade  (I suggest homemade due to the large amount needed – it’s flavor is crucial to the end result)
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 ounces pancetta, diced
    • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
    • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
    • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.

    Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.

    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 butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

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