Butternut Squash Risotto


Autumn, Gluten-Free, Sides / Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I can’t believe I halved this recipe.

Jeff was working late. I was about to watch the presidential debate. And Barefoot Contessa recipes usually make enough to fill a trough. What did I need with a trough of Butternut Squash Risotto?

I NEED a trough of Butternut Squash Risotto.

First, there are the sweet, peppery cubes of roasted butternut squash. Delicious on their own. But then you start simmering a little pot of chicken stock and sautéeing the pancetta and minced shallots in melted butter, and the smells mingling in the kitchen are nothing short of intoxicating. After about 10 minutes, you add the Arborio rice and a little champagne. (The recipe calls for dry white wine, but we are rich in champagne – one of the many benefits of getting married on New Year’s Eve.) And then you ask yourself, “What would Ina do?,” and pour yourself a glass.

So, what makes risotto different from other rice dishes? It requires a short, roundish, high-starch rice – like Arborio – that can absorb its cooking liquid. When the rice seems to be getting dry, you add another cup of chicken stock and stir, repeating the process until the rice is cooked through. The starch from the rice eventually thickens the surrounding liquid, making it rich and creamy.

When the risotto is ready, take the pot off the heat, and stir in the squash and freshly grated Parmesan. I spooned some into a small bowl and sat down to watch the debate. Then I tasted it, walked back into the kitchen and filled a bowl the size of my head. Which is to say, large.

The debate didn’t offer anything new, but the flavors of this Barefoot Bloggers pick definitely get my vote.

Butternut Squash Risotto

From Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Family Style”

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock*
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) 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 (optional)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the rice, and stir to coat the grains with butter.
  6. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. 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.
  8. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan. Mix well and serve.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Make sure to use GF chicken stock.

43 thoughts on “Butternut Squash Risotto

  1. “Then I tasted it, walked back into the kitchen and filled a bowl the size of my head. Which is to say, large.”

    Laughing! I did the exactly same thing. I wandered over to my computer with a tiny bowl to upload my photos while I ate it and I stopped, turned around, and got a bigger bowl. That was some mighty fine eating, I tell you!

  2. Wasn’t this fantastic? I put some in a tiny leaf-y bowl for my photograph, but I hope no one thinks I considered that a “serving.”

  3. I loved it too and so did my guests. Mine took a little longer to cook and I’m going to leave out the extra salt next time. The saffron was well worth the splurge.

  4. This was a great recipe. Wish I had thought to half it however. Too much for the hubs and me to handle. I made it Sunday and he is still eating on it! :)
    Yours looks great!!

  5. Oh yeah, next time I’m make this, I’m supersizing it! I bet a little champagne (both in the recipe and straight up) added a little “je ne sais quoi” to the whole experience. If only the butternut squash risotto knew how to unfreeze those pesky credit markets, I’d be voting for it for sure!

  6. I halved it too, fool that I am. I always halve the wrong ones and get stuck with oodles of leftovers on the iffy ones. I want it again for lunch today and I’m all out. Sniff, sniff.

  7. A trough of risotto! I’m with you-I loved it. I had trouble not eating all the squash before I stirred it in! As usual your pictures are just beautiful!

  8. Yes, this was a delicious recipe! I didn’t halve mine either like I usually do. I love risotto! Yours looks great!

  9. I halved ours too. I also did as Ina would do, and poured myself a glass… and then another… and another. Long day yesterday. Glad you loved it!

  10. I am such a risotto junkie, and will you *just* look at this!! Yum! I love that you used champagne. And what a good excuse to open a bottle…

  11. i am a fairly regular lurker, who wandered over long ago via prudence pennywise. this looks delicious. i’m going to have to try it.
    thanks for always keeping your posts both entertaining and delicious!

  12. I made this risotto this weekend for 3 of us! We ALMOST polished off the entire thing! I skipped the saffron simply because I cannot stand the flavor of it, but everything else remained the same. I even topped it with some toasted chopped hazelnuts for crunch which turned out to be a fantastic addition.

  13. I’m with you on this one, all the way. This was the best risotto I’ve ever made, hands down. I WISH I could’ve eaten more, but it was just a bit too rich for me… luckily that just means I can have it again the next couple days to finish up the leftovers :)

    You really have a beautiful blog, and I love your photos.

  14. I can not believe the timing.. I just sat down to do a bit of ‘foodgawking’ as a ladle of stock is lovingly absorbed into my risotto, and I see this picture!! It is like a sneak peek of my dinner… now I am impatient to eat it, but also glad I made an extra large serving!!!
    Ali :)

  15. I made this risotto last night after reading about it on your blog, and it was indeed delicious! As I was only making it for myself, I just guessed at the amounts of each ingredient; and left out the saffron. Will definitely be making it again! Thanks for posting the recipe :D

  16. […] Butternut Squash Risotto: First, there are the sweet, peppery cubes of roasted butternut squash. Delicious on their own. But then you start simmering a little pot of chicken stock and sautéeing the pancetta and minced shallots in melted butter, and the smells mingling in the kitchen are nothing short of intoxicating. After about 10 minutes, you add the Arborio rice and a little champagne. (The recipe calls for dry white wine, but we are rich in champagne – one of the many benefits of getting married on New Year’s Eve.) And then you ask yourself, “What would Ina do?,” and pour yourself a glass. Recipe from Ezra Pound Cake. […]

  17. I made this 2 nights ago for dinner…had it for dinner again last night with friends…and just finished up the last bit for lunch today…I think I’ll make some more………. :)

    Thanks!

  18. You described it so well I felt my mouth water a bit. If it tasted that good then I am grabbing this recipe and trying this real soon. I'll be back and then I will let you know what I think.

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