The Last Days

We are entering the last few days of winter. It seemed as though warm weather was here to stay, but after a cold snap over the last couple days, it only seems perfect to get the last inkling of enjoyment from those winter staples.

I’ve long been a fan of butternut squash. I’ve used it in chicken pot pie, soup, and here, in risotto.

I’ve also long been a fan of Jamie Oliver. He makes me want to cook better, simpler, and more healthful for my family. A great inspiration.

So, we marry those two together and get a butternut squash risotto. It’s to. die. for. Perfect for these cool, rainy days here in Memphis.

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Pancetta
Slightly adapted from

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp light butter, divided in half
4 cups chicken stock, heated to a simmer
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 glass-worth of vermouth, white wine, or cooking wine
4 ounces fresh grated parmesean
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 butternut squash
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
6 slices pancetta, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh sage
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and chop into one inch pieces. Season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and coriander. Toss to combine. Spread into a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prep your risotto. Melt half the butter and a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot. Add your chopped onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic, stirring until fragrant. Add arborio rice. Cook, stirring, until the rice smells nutty and is all coated in the butter and olive oil. Add vermouth/wine/cooking wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until liquid is almost evaporated. Add a ladle or two of the simmering chicken stock, and cook, stirring occasionally until liquid is nearly evaporated. Continue this process, keeping the risotto at a slight bubble, adding chicken stock little by little until you’ve used all the stock, the rice is cooked but not mushy, and it is thick and creamy. The whole process will take about 25 to 30 minutes. If you notice the liquid evaporating too quickly, back down the heat a bit on the pot.

3. After the squash has cooked it’s time, lay the pancetta over the squash and flake the sage leaves onto the top. Drizzle with a little olive oil to facilitate crisping, and bake another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, set aside.

4. After risotto has finished cooking, add last bit of butter and parmesean and stir vigorously until well combined. This makes the risotto creamy and thick. Lay pancetta and sage aside, finely chop the squash. Add to the risotto, stirring in to combine. Taste, season with salt and pepper as necessary. Roughly chop pancetta and sage, add to the top of the risotto.

5. Serve immediately, family style, so that each person gets a healthy scoop of risotto with a bit of the sage and pancetta.


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