This trio of ingredients are really a match made in heaven. The saltiness of the pancetta brings out a delicious sweetness from the butternut squash which is balanced by a subtle hint of sage.
I decided to make this after having dined out with friends last weekend. Two of them ordered a pumpkin and pancetta risotto which disappointed big time. Complete lack of seasoning and a seemingly non-existent addition of pumpkin were to blame. So here is my version which swaps pumpkin for squash.
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 200g Arborio risotto rice
- 150g butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- 100g pancetta
- 100ml dry white wine
- 600ml vegetable stock
- Fresh sage, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- Parmesan to garnish
The pancetta can be prepared at any time, before or during the cooking of the risotto. Simply add to a frying pan on a medium heat with no oil and fry off until slightly crispy.
Starting with the butternut squash, add to a pan of boiling water and cook gently for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain, mash and put to one side.
On a medium heat, heat oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for 5 minutes before adding the mashed butternut squash. Add a drop of water to loosen the squash slightly, give it a good stir and add the rice.
Stir the rice so it is mixed well with the other ingredients and becomes slightly translucent and then pour in the white wine. Cook this down stirring often until the wine has reduced. Ladle in some of the stock, stirring frequently until the majority of the stock has been absorbed.
You will need to continue to do this until you have used all of the stock, stirring almost continuously and vigorously in order to bash out the starch from the risotto rice. The end result should be smooth and creamy with just a slight bite to the rice.
Finally season with pepper (no need for salt as the pancetta itself is majorly salty), add the pancetta, a teaspoon or two of chopped sage and a small knob of butter. Garnish with grated parmesan.