Roast Squash, Sage, Chestnut and Pancetta Risotto
If I could pick a load of ingredients that just shout out ‘Bonfire Night! Christmas! Cosy!’ it would have to be all the ones in this risotto. It’s so damn good — cook it whenever the ingredients are in season.
Try this: Place a grater and a block of Parmesan cheese in the middle of the table so that everyone can help themselves.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
One Pot MealYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Equipmentmortar and pestle
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Moodadventurous, blue, romantic
Taste and Texturecheesy, creamy, crisp, rich, salty, savory, spiced, sweet, umami
- 1 x Basic Risotto recipe (see below)
- 1 butternut squash
- 1 level tablespoon coriander seeds
- 2 small dried chillies
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- 12 slices of pancetta or dry-cured smoky bacon
- 100g/3 1/2 oz chestnuts (vac-packed are fine)
- A bunch of fresh sage, leaves picked
- Optional: 6 heaped tablespoons mascarpone cheese
- Approx. 1.1 litres/2 pints stock (chicken, fish or vegetable as appropriate)
- 1 knob of butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ head of celery, finely chopped
- 400g/14oz risotto rice
- 2 wineglasses of dry white vermouth (dry Martini or Noilly Prat) or dry white wine
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 70g/2 ½ oz butter
- 115g/4oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Carefully cut your butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Put these to one side. Cut the squash lengthways into 0.5cm/ 1/4-inch slices. Bash up your coriander and chillies with a pinch of salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar (or use a metal bowl and the end of a rolling pin). Dust this over your squash with a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss around until completely coated. Line up snugly in a roasting tray and bake for around 30 minutes until the flesh and skin are soft to the touch. Now get all your ingredients ready and start making your Basic Risotto.
Remove the squash from the oven and lay your pancetta over it. Mix the squash seeds, chestnuts and sage leaves with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the squash and pancetta and place back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until the pancetta is crisp. Once the squash has cooled down a little, shake off the pancetta and chestnuts and finely chop the squash — it will be quite mushy but that’s fine. I go for half of it fine and half chunky. Add this to the risotto at the end of Stage 3. Carry on as normal through the basic recipe, season to taste and serve with the pancetta, chestnuts, sage leaves and squash seeds sprinkled over the top. Lovely served with a big dollop of mascarpone cheese on the side.
For the Basic Risotto:
Stage 1: Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
Stage 2: The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
Stage 3: Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
Stage 4: Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes outrageously creamy and oozy like it should be. Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture.
2002 Jamie Oliver