4-5sprigs Fresh Thyme - with leaves removed from stem
4-5 leavesFresh Sage - minced
1/4cup White Wine
½cupButternut Squash Purée (see recipe and blog notes)
½cupParmesan Cheese - shredded off the block
Pinch Black Pepper
Butternut Squash Purée
Preheat your oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Cut your butternut squash, scoop out the seeds. Place on your baking sheet, facing upward. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with cinnamon and ¼ tsp of salt. Roast until it's fork tender, about 32 minutes. Set it aside to cool while you prep the other ingredients.
Once the butternut squash is cooled, scoop it out from the skin. Using a blender or food processor, blend until it is a purée consistency - you will need about 1/2 cup total - set aside. (optional: skip this step and just dice into small bite size pieces)
Prep all of the ingredients. This is important for risotto because once you start stirring the rice, you will not have time to to step away. Make sure everything is measured and ready.
In a large pan, sauté the pancetta until crispy, remove from the heat, keeping the fat in the pan, remove the crispy pancetta to a paper towel. Set aside.
Over medium heat, in the same pan as the pancetta fat, add in your onion, fresh herbs and salt. Slowing cook your onions until they are soft, translucent and the herbs become fragrant. Continue to cook until they are a rich brown caramelized color, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
As your onions cook, in a small sauce pot, add in your 4 cups of vegetable stock and grab a ladle. Bring the your stock up to a low boil. If you are making ahead, only bring up about 2½ cups of stock to a boil, save the rest for later.
Once your onions are soft and caramelized, add in your arborio rice and deglaze with your white wine. Pour in your wine and allow it to evaporate almost entirely.
As the wine evaporates, lower your heat to a low-medium heat and add in ½ of a ladle of your hot stock and stir continuously - this is the start of the 23 minutes.
As your stock leaves the pan you will want to add another ½ ladle of your hot stock as you continue to stir. Let the stock almost dry up before adding your next ladle. Stir. Stir. Stir.
Over time you notice the rice will start to plump up and there will be a start to a creamy residue. Keep up the good work!
After 17-23 minutes of repeating steps 7 & 8 (sometime a little longer if it's your first time), check the bite. You want the rice to be soft and chewy, if it's still too hard, keep going with the same technique. You shouldn't run out of stock, but if you do, quickly heat up water to finish the risotto. Don't worry this will not jeopardize all of your hard work, the flavors will still be there!
Once your rice is soft and chewy, remove from the heat. Stir in your butternut squash purée, parmesan cheese, crispy pancetta and black pepper.