This is a very heartwarming family dish in my opinion. It’s one those family favourites that bring everyone together. Best made in Autumn when butternut squash are in abundance. Of course, this is not just a simple Butternut Squash Risotto, it oozes warmth, a proper comfort food. It’s one you would make on a rainy day or on a day when you need a warmth and love. It contains 100% love, truly wholesome and absolutely flavoursome. For me, each mouthful is food to my soul, reminding me that there is always warmth and love especially from my family and I hope I can pass this on to my children, to let them know that mummy will always be there to love and support them, catch them when they fall and help them get back up again. I call this my Risotto of Familial Warmth and Love.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- Risotto Rice 500g
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
- Butternut squash (approx.. 750g cut into cubes)
- Chicken stock 1.75 litres
- Butter 25g
- Pancetta / Lardons 200g
- Streaky Bacon x 6
- Bay leaves x 2
- Dried oregano x 1 tsp
- Fresh Basil
- Nutmeg (to grate)
- Chilli flakes x 1/2 tsp (a small pinch if you don’t like a spicy)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
First, cut the butternut squash into cubes. I have mine cut approximately 1.5cm x 1.5cm x 1.5cm
Finely chop the garlic and onion. In a hot pan, melt the butter in, add garlic, onion and the pancetta or lardons. Fry until golden brown.
Now, add the bay leaves and butternut squash. Fry for 3-4 minutes. Add the dried oregano, chilli flakes and a little pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well.
Add your risotto rice. Fry for a further 3-4 minutes on medium high heat. You will the rice grain turning translucent.
Slowly add the stock. I tend to add a ladle at a time and let it mix in well and cook before adding more. Once all the stock has been added, let it bubble and bring to a medium simmer. Unlike paella, you have to mix the risotto often to ensure it doesn’t burn. Keep stirring and cook for 25-30 minutes for al dente risotto rice.
In the mean time, put 6 streaky bacons into the oven at 180C for approximately 15 minutes (turning mid way) to get them crispy.
Season with salt and pepper as necessary. Serve the risotto rice in a bowl. Add the shards of crispy bacon for extra texture and taste. Grate over the bowl some nutmeg, sprinkle fresh basil and a drizzle or extra virgin olive oil. Let your taste buds go on an adventure of fuzzy warmness. Enjoy the warmth of the risotto and may it bring you and your family warmth and love as it does mine. Buon appetito!