Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Butternut Squash, Bacon & Sage Risotto

The bf is under the impression that we hardly ever have risotto. Of course he is wrong, he just never remembers what I cook (I like to tell myself that is because he eats so well at home but who knows: it can be slightly annoying) but whatever, I was feeling nice so promised that we would have risotto the following week.

We had half a butternut squash in the fridge to use up so my first instinct was to have a BNS & sage risotto and then I thought of adding some bacon into the mix. Because a) what doesn’t taste better with the addition of bacon and b) it’s pork so must go well with the sage too, right?

In an effort to lighten it up slightly I added a tablespoon of light mascarpone for that end-of-risotto-cooking creaminess that stirring in a big knob of butter usually accomplishes. As ever with my efforts to lighten up it smacks slightly of bolting the stable door after the horse has legged it - after all this is risotto we’re talking about. With bacon.

Butternut Squash, Bacon & Sage Risotto
serves 2

4 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
½ medium onion, finely chopped
450ml pork (or chicken or veg) stock
1 garlic clove, crushed
150g Arborio rice
85ml vermouth (or dry white wine)
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
350g butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½ in dice
3 sage leaves, finely chopped (plus extra leaves for garnish)
25g grated parmesan cheese
1½ tbsp light mascarpone

Put the stock in a small saucepan & set over very low heat.

In a large sauce pan cook the bacon over medium heat until just getting crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to kitchen paper to drain.

Drain off all but 1½ tsp of the bacon fat and add the onions, chopped sage and BNS and gently sauté until the onions are caramelising and the squash is starting to be tender, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and a grind of nutmeg and sauté until fragrant, another 30 seconds.

Add the rice and stir around for 3 or so minutes so coated in the onion mixture and toasted without colouring.

Turn the heat up a little and add the the wine, add it and let bubble down until reduced. Reduce the heat again.

Then add 1 ladle of stock and stir occasionally until absorbed. Repeat with a ladleful at a time until the rice is al-dente, stirring well after each addition.

Check occasionally to see if the rice is ready (you may not use all the stock) – it should be soft with a bit of chew in the middle – and the consistency fluid. When it is done, season with pepper.

Take the pan off the heat. Add a splash of the stock to keep the risotto moist, stir in half the bacon, half the Parmesan, and the mascarpone. pop the lid on and let the risotto sit for 3-4 mins to rest.

Meanwhile, add a tsp of oil to a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sage leaves, then fry for a few secs until starting to colour. Transfer to kitchen paper with a slotted spoon to drain. Spoon the risotto into bowls, then scatter over the rest of the bacon, the remaining Parmesan and the crisp sage leaves.

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