Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Risotto with Mushrooms and Butternut Squash Two Ways Topped with Pancetta

Inspired by a vegan version at Candle Cafe on the Upper West Side, this autumnal Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto Recipe is made with cubes of butternut squash, sliced mushrooms and onions and is served on top of a butternut squash puree. Homemade turkey, duck and chicken stock and crispy, salt-cured Pancetta bacon provide additional layers of flavor.   

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto Served Over Puree of Butternut Squash and Topped with Pancetta
I had a homemade stock leftover from the holidays stored in the freezer though any good quality chicken broth will work. Superfine Italian Arborio (risotto) rice and generous amounts of aged Parmegiano-Reggiano make for a creamy risotto — perfect for this cold and snowy weather. 
Ingredients Prep

Stir Constantly Slowly Adding Liquid Makes for a Creamy Risotto

Puree of Butternut Squash Awaiting a Generous Heap of Cooked Risotto

Crispy Pancetta Adds Salt and Crunch

Risotto with Mushrooms and Butternut Squash Two Ways Topped with Pancetta  
(2-3 entree servings or 4 appetizer portions)

3 1/2 cups of chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2” cubes (divided evenly - half for the puree and half for the rice)
8 ounces of Pancetta bacon, sliced thin 
1 onion, diced
1 pound of mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 cup of superfine Arborio (risotto) rice
1 cup of dry white wine
1/3 cup of Parmegiano-Reggiano Cheese 

Butternut Squash Puree and Braised Butternut Squash Cubes
Bring 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth to a simmer. Add one half of the butternut squash cubes and braise until tender in the stock, about 5 minutes. Remove the cooked squash with a small sieve and set aside in a bowl for the puree. Add the other half of the cubes to the hot broth and when they are cooked through set aside to add to the risotto below. To make the puree: add one half of the cooked butternut squash cubes and several tablespoons of stock to a food process and process until slightly thicker than soup but thinner than a traditional vegetable puree — add stock as needed. Set aside then reheat when the risotto is done. The puree is the base of the dish and provides a creamy sauce to mix in with the rice.  Save the hot chicken broth which has been infused with butternut squash to make the risotto. 

In a large sauce pan,  cook Pancetta slices over medium heat turning regularly to cook evenly.  Set aside cooked pieces on paper towels to remove grease. Reserve the bacon fat and use to cook onions over medium-low heat until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook through, stirring frequently. Add the rice to the pan and toast, stir constantly, about 2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir the rice until the wine is fully absorbed, 2 minutes. One cup at a time add chicken stock that was used to braise the butternut squash, return to simmer. Stir constantly until the stock is absorbed, then add another cup of stock until fully absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Add the braised cubes of butternut squash right before adding the third and final cup of stock and stirring constantly cooking until the rice is al dente. Stir in the grated cheese right when the rice is done. 

To Plate; 

Reheat the puree in the microwave and ladle 3/4 of a cup into a soup bowl. Serve the risotto on top of the puree and top with Pancetta. 

Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto Served Over Puree of Butternut Squash and Topped with Pancetta

No comments: