If I were in charge of picking the food celebrity of fall, this dish would win. At least, thus far. Next week we might create a new A-lister.
Really though, this risotto is awesome. This was my first time really making risotto — with the whole constantly stirring thing. I made beet and goat cheese risotto a while back, but it was fake. Really easy (and delicious!). This butternut squash risotto starts in white wine, then you gradually add a mixture of apple cider (!!) and chicken stock. Stir, stir, stir!
I made the mistake of making this dish immediately following a two hour HARD yoga class completely focused on shoulder strength: I was TIRED and my shoulders were complaining. Me + upper body strength = a joke, but we’re getting there! A few more risottos and I’ll have muscles even the Rock would be jealous of. Ha!
This is not to scare you away from making risotto (too late to change course for this post?) — it’s well worth it. The apple cider is BRILLIANT — and I can’t claim credit. I used Shanna’s recipe as my base and inspiration. Doesn’t she take beautiful pictures? I love it!
We’re certainly moving into the season of warm, stick-to-your-bones meals — this is one of them! We’ve transitioned to having steel-cut oats each morning, and to me this risotto is like the dinner equivalent. Awesome texture, soft and hearty, full of flavor, and WARM. Salads are out the door in my book for the time being — I want warm meals at every point in the day! That’s what cold weather does, apparently!
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, & cubed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups apple cider
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 6 thick bacon slices, diced
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh minced sage
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Toss the cubed butternut squash with one tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Remove and let cool slightly before pureeing with a blender or hand blender. Set aside.
- While the squash is baking, combine the apple cider and the chicken stock in a large pot over low heat.
- At the same time, cook the bacon in a heavy soup pot over medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside, leaving the bacon grease in the pot.
- Turn the heat under the apple cider mixture to medium.
- Add the shallots to the bacon grease and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the sage and nutmeg, then the rice, then the wine. Immediately after adding the wine, scrape the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula to get all of the flavor off and into the mixture.
- Cook, stirring, until the wine is mostly absorbed. Add half a cup of the apple cider mixture, and cook (stirring) until absorbed. Repeat until the rice is almost done, but slightly al dente. You might not use all of the liquid.
- Mix in the squash puree, along with the pepper and grated cheese. Cook for another five minutes, then serve topped with extra bacon and cheese.
- If you have leftover liquid, it can be used to soften up leftovers the next day.