Saffron Risotto + Butternut Squash & Shiitake Bacon

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of shiitake bacon
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups.
  3. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once, until very tender. Set aside.
  4. Slice the shiitake mushrooms, toss with 3T olive oil, 1t salt, 1/2t pepper. Place on a sheet pan and cook for 10 minutes. Stir. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
  6. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, add 1T olive oil and add the rice and stir to coat the grains with oil. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock.
  9. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total.
  10. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes, shiitake bacon, and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

Variations & Notes:

Can also bake the risotto in the oven for 45 minutes.  See Ina Garten’s easy baked risotto.

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