Butternut Squash and Crispy Bacon Risotto

There has been a beautiful large butternut squash sitting on my kitchen worktop for a couple of weeks now and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. I used to love risottos but for some reason I haven’t made one in quite a while as I’m the only one in the house that really likes them. As the days are now seeming so autumnal I wanted to make something that reflected the season and this is what I came up with. This is quite a simple risotto and has no wine in it as I wanted my toddler to eat it but you could add a splash of white wine or marsala along with the stock. I find the amount of liquid is never particularly exact when I make a risotto so if I run out of stock and the rice still isn’t done I just keep adding hot water, it doesn’t affect the flavour at all.

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This is what you will need. It served two generous adult portions and some for my toddler.

About half an average butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes

  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 1 small onion
  • About 30g parmesan, finely grated

Firstly, lay out the squash cubes on a baking tray and drizzle them with olive oil. Sprinkle about half a teaspoon of smoked paprika over them and add a little salt and pepper. Mix it all to make sure the squash is covered and put in the oven at 180°C. It will need about 30 minutes to become soft and lightly browned.

Chop the bacon into slices and fry in a good splash of oil until crispy. Transfer the cooked bacon to a plate and leave the oil and bacon fat on the heat and add the celery and onion. Fry these over a medium heat until they are lightly browned. This will take 5-10 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil, onion and celery. You now need to start gradually adding the stock, about a cupful at a time. Keep this bubbling over a low-medium heat and stir constantly. The aim is to get the rice to soak up the stock bit by bit so as soon as it the stock has been absorbed, add more. You need to keep doing this until the rice is almost cooked which took 25 minutes for me.

Once the rice is almost cooked, add the oven baked squash, mashing some and leaving some cubes whole. Continue stirring, adding stock or water if necessary until the rice is completely done. Risotto rice should still been a little firm in the middle.

Finally, stir in your crispy bacon and about half the parmesan. Serve with the rest spinkled on top.

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