Butternut Squash Risotto

I would like to let you in on a culinary secret…risotto is not hard to make, I promise! I first dabbled in risotto-making when a recipe for a saffron risotto (similar to this recipe) appeared in Ina Garten’s cookbook: Barefoot Contessa Family Style. I knew her recipe would be easy-to-follow and accurate, and it was! So here is my version of that creamy, smoky and slightly sweet risotto. The tricks to making perfect risotto are as follows: buy arborio rice and accept no substitute; heat up your stock and have it ready for you to ladle into the pan; keep your risotto at a slight simmer, not a rumbling boil; and taste the risotto before serving. The rice should be creamy but still with a little texture. It should not be stuck in your teeth–if it is, add more stock (or even hot water, you can always season it) and cook it longer. You do not have to obsessively stir, but you want to stay close by to adjust the heat as necessary. Here we go! Pay it forward after you make this and tell your friends how surprisingly easy it is. 

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth (homemade, or low-sodium store bought)
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 small or 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1½ cups arborio rice (I use Rice Select brand, which comes in a plastic jar)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • wedge of fresh Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Peel the butternut squash, cut the neck of the squash off of the bulb end, slice bulb end in half and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Then, slice the squash and cut into a small dice (see process photos, below).
  3. Line a sheet pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, drizzle over a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and toss on the butternut squash. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper, toss together with your hands, and roast for 25 minutes or so, flipping once, until very tender.
  4. Meanwhile, heat up the chicken stock and the thyme leaves in a microwave-safe bowl, or on a pot on the stove, until hot. Set aside.
  5. In a large skillet, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  6. Chop onions into a small dice and add to the skillet, sweating the onions for a moment or two, but not browning them.
  7. Chop the bacon into small, bite-size pieces and add to the pan with the onions. Cook for a few minutes to cook the bacon and further soften the onions.
  8. Add the rice and toss all together for one minute, then add the wine and cook for 2 minutes or so.
  9. Add about a cup and a half of warm chicken stock and stir. Adjust heat so the rice is at a nice low simmer and stir occasionally. Cook until the liquid is almost all absorbed.
  10. Add 3 more rounds of stock. repeating the process until the rice is cooked, about 30 minutes total. Taste it to see how far along the rice is. If you run out of stock you can always add a little hot water and adjust seasoning. You want tender, creamy rice.
  11. When the risotto is done, toss in all of the butternut squash, a tablespoon of butter, and shower with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning one final time, adding a little fresh thyme or salt if necessary. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Risotto Prep

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