Risotto is like pasta in that it is a great blank slate for all sorts of flavor combinations. Once you learn the basic recipe, it’s easy to improvise. Although I have a tendency to go overboard with the fat which means my risotto leans towards delicious but heavy.
I wrote some notes on how to make a top-notch risotto here. The key to a great risotto is the last step before you let it rest, the mantecatura, when you gently stir in some fat to bring out all the creaminess.
Risotto with roasted squash, pancetta, sage, and chestnuts
- 1/2 of a delica pumpkin or winter squash
- 50 grams (1.8 ounces) pancetta or bacon, diced
- 5 large sage leaves, minced
- 5 cooked or roasted chestnuts, chopped (learn how to roast chestnuts here)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 cup (200 grams) of arborio, vialone nano, or carnaroli rice
- Hot water or broth
- 1/2 cup of white wine
- Olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Place the squash on waxed paper on a baking sheet, coat with a thin layer of olive oil, season with a little salt and pepper, and roast until tender. It should get crispy and caramelize a little.
- Meanwhile, cook the onion, sage, and pancetta in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is soft and translucent and the pancetta is cooked.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the rice and toast it.
- Add the wine and cook until it mostly evaporates.
- Add about 2 cups of hot water or broth and then turn down the heat and simmer until al dente. Add more hot water or broth as necessary.
- Shortly before the risotto is finished cooking, stir in the squash and most of the chopped chestnuts. Save a few chestnuts for the final plate.
- Remove from the heat and gently stir in some butter and cheese. Add some more hot water or broth if it is too dry.
- Let the risotto rest for at least four minutes before plating.
- Plate and top with the remaining chestnuts, black pepper, and parmesan cheese.