Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon and Thyme
It’s that time of year again – Christmas potlucks and Holiday get togethers! I struggled with what to make this year until I started working with so much pumpkin in October. I think I finally realized that I actually really like squash. The inspiration to make this came from a few places; my Creamy Pumpkin and Sage Pasta that featured bacon and sausage, my Sweet Potato Stuffing with Bacon and Thyme, and a delicate Butternut Squash and Port Bisque that we had at the Four Seasons this past Saturday. I was also thrilled to finally be able to utilize my duck stock!
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 6-8 cups good quality chicken stock (I used duck stock)
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 5 Tbsp butter
- good handful of thyme, leaves picked
- 1 cup grated fresh parmegianni reggianno
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and chopped into small cubes
- 1/2 tsp grated fresh nutmeg
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- olive oil
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. On a baking sheet, toss your butternut squash in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. On a rack in the upper 2/3 of your oven, roast the squash until nice and tender, about 35 minutes.
In a saucepan, place your duck stock or chicken stock over medium heat. Don’t bring it to a boil, but you want that stock nice and hot for your stirring action. Throw 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme into the stock. Let warm gently while we prepare everything else.
In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, fry your bacon until it reaches your preferred level of doneness. When ready, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and reserve on some paper towels to remove the excess grease.
Remove all but about 2 Tbsp of the remaining bacon grease, and melt 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and about 1 Tbsp of thyme leaves and stir until well incorporated.
Add the arborio rice to the pan, and stir around to make sure the rice is toasted well and decently covered in the fat, about 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with the wine, and stir constantly until the liquid has been absorbed.
Now, we start adding the duck stock; about 1/2 cup at a time until the rice is tender, but still firm to the bite, about 30 minutes of constant stirring. Don’t give up – you will reap the rewards in the end!
About 25 minutes into stirring, add the bacon and squash back into the risotto. Keep on stirring until the rice reaches a very creamy consistency and a nice al dente bite. Remove from the heat and stir in the remainder of the butter and all of the cheese. Season with salt (and pepper, if you wish), to taste, and serve!