Risotto with pancetta and roasted butternut squash
Last week, I wrote about how to prepare a butternut squash and said I would post a recipe for it. I used that squash in a lovely risotto.
Here are the rest of the ingredients that I used (apart from 750g of squash which was roasting in the oven at the time that this picture was taken).
1 onion, chopped
125g smoked pancetta
40g butter (please do not use margarine or 'fake' butter!)
350g arborio rice
1 glass of white wine
1.5lt of vegetable stock made with Bouillon powder (you could use a stock cube)
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not in the photo, sorry!)
First, I roasted the squash with a little olive oil, salt and pepper in a 200°C oven for about 45 minutes, turning the chunks over about twice during the cooking period. After about 15-20minutes of the squash being in the oven, I started the risotto.
I began by melting 20g butter in a large flameproof casserole with 1 tbsp olive oil. I added the pancetta and onion and let them cook over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. In the meantime, I placed the stock into a saucepan and left it to barely simmer over very low heat. It is important that the stock is kept simmering. If it were to cool, it would bring down the temperature of the risotto every time it's added to the risotto and everything will take longer to cook. I keep them side by side on the hob, so that it's easy to add the stock to the risotto later on.
When the pancetta and onion were cooked, I added the rice and stirred it for about 1-2 minutes so that it was slightly toasted and coated in butter.
After that, I added the wine. I let the wine bubble until it was almost completely absorbed by the rice, stirring constantly. Then I gradually added the stock, one ladleful at a time. Please wait until almost all the liquid is absorbed by the rice before you add the next ladleful of stock. The whole mixture should be kept at simmering point. And you really do need to keep stirring it constantly because it will stick to the bottom otherwise.
After about 20 minutes, the rice should be cooked. Do test a few grains to make sure. Take the risotto off the heat, and stir in the chunks of squash, which should be nicely roasted by now. Then - and this step is imperative - stir in 20g of butter and 1-2 tbsp Parmesan cheese.
The Italians call this the mantecatura. It brings the risotto into creamy, glossy life and makes a world of difference, so please don't leave it out!
Then serve your risotto presto pronto (as soon as it's done) with some more Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top if desired.