Butternut Squash Risotto
printed from melskitchencafe.com
*Serves 4 as a main course, 6 as a side dish
4 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth; more as needed
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 large fresh sage leaves
6 slices bacon, diced
2 medium shallots, minced, about 1/4 cup
2 cups (1/4-inch-diced) fresh, uncooked butternut squash
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the chicken broth in a small/medium saucepan and set over medium heat. It doesn't need to boil, just heat it through and keep it hot while making the risotto. In a medium (3-quart) saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sage leaves and fry, turning once, until they’ve turned dark green in most places, about 1 minute total, being careful not to brown the leaves. With a fork, transfer to the fried sage leaves to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Drain off all of the oil except for 1-2 teaspoons. Cook the bacon in the hot oil in the saucepan, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the bacon to the plate with the sage. Again, drain off excess grease, if desired, leaving about 2 teaspoons in the saucepan.
Add the shallots to the saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the squash and rice and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Ladle in enough of the hot broth mixture to just cover the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is mostly absorbed. Keep the heat regulated so that the broth isn't boiling (it will evaporate too quickly) but instead the rice/broth mixture bubbles and simmers gently while it cooks. Add another ladleful of broth and continue cooking and stirring until absorbed. Continue this process (adding a ladleful or two of broth once the previous broth has been absorbed), stirring constantly, until the rice is tender with just a slightly toothsome quality, about 25 minutes. If you use all the broth before the rice gets tender, simply use more broth.
Set aside the nicest looking sage leaves as a garnish (about 1 leaf per serving) and reserve a few crumbles of bacon for garnish as well. Crumble the remaining bacon and sage leaves into the risotto. Stir in the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble the remaining bacon over each serving and garnish with a sage leaf. Serve immediately.