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Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Pancetta
© Maura McEvoy

Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Pancetta

  • TOTAL TIME: 45 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 8
  • FAST

This simple and satisfying risotto was inspired by a dish from Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene's famed restaurant, Gangivecchio, in Sicily. You can substitute bacon and most types of winter squash (like delicata) for the ingredients used here.

  1. 1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  2. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  3. One 1 1/2-pound butternut squash—peeled, halved, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-by-1/4-inch sticks
  4. 8 sage leaves
  5. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. 5 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  7. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  8. 1 medium onion, finely diced
  9. 2 1/2 cups arborio rice (19 ounces)
  10. 1 cup dry white wine
  11. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  1. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta over moderate heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the fat in the skillet. Add the squash and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the sage, season with salt and pepper and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the squash to the bowl with the pancetta.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Continue adding the stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring constantly until it is nearly absorbed before adding more. The risotto is done when the rice is just tender and the liquid is creamy, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the 1/2 cup of Parmesan into the risotto. Gently fold in the squash and pancetta. Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.
Make Ahead The pancetta and squash can be refrigerated overnight. Let return to room temperature before using.

Suggested Pairing

The inspiration for this dish came from a restaurant in Sicily, but the origins of risotto actually lie in northern Italy. That may be why Müller-Thurgau, a grape widely grown in the Trentino region, pairs so well with it. Müller-Thurgau produces straw-colored wines with a distinctive herb-citrus scent.

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