Monday, October 26, 2009

Week 9: Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp

I have never cooked or eaten (at least not since I survived on baby food) squash. Hiding it in risotto - with plenty of butter and wine and cheese - seemed like the best way to eat a sort-of suspect vegetable.

And, thus my contribution to Kitchen Challenge 2: Squash It was born.

There are lots of ingredients (which I know intimidates Greta) and a vegetable that isn't corn, peas, or green benas (which makes Denise nervous) and shrimp (which makes the dish non-Em friendly), but read on because it was actually pretty great.

Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp

Adapted from:
Bon Appetit, November 2009, p. 62
Cook's Illustrated: Italian Favorites, 2009, p. 46-47

Serves 4 as a main course (6 as a side dish)
Prep time: 50 - 60 minutes

4 oz pancetta, chopped

1 lb large, uncooked, deveined, peeled shrimp

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 medium, butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeded (fibers and seeds reserved), and cut into 1/2" cubes (about 3 1/2 C)

3/4 tsp salt, divided

3/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided

4 C low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)

1 C water

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped (about 1 C)

2 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tsp)

1 1/3 C Arborio rice

1 1/3 C dry white wine, room temperature

1 1/2 oz finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 C)

1/4 C whipping cream, room temperature

1 tsp dried, ground sage

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Get the squash ready. (This was the scariest step for me, but it wasn't really that bad.) Peel it with a vegetable peeler. Cut off the top (about 1") and bottom (about 1"). Cut the squash at its "bulbous point" - the part where it goes from being round to being more stem-like. Cut bulb in half and remove seeds with spoon. (Reserve seeds and goop.) Cut each piece of the bulb into 1/2" halfmoons, then into 1/2" cubes. Stand on neck end and slice into 1/2" planks. Cut planks into 1/2" strips, then into 1/2" cubes.

2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and saute until fat renders and brown and almost crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to medium bowl. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper (1/8" tsp each). Saute until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Add to bowl with pancetta.

3. Add 2 Tbsp oil to skillet. Heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add 3 1/2 C squash in even layer and cook without stirring until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender and browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer squash to bowl and set aside.

4. Keep skillet over medium heat; add reserved squash fibers and seeds and any leftover diced squash. Cook, stirring frequently (and, frequently means pretty much constantly) to break up fibers, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to large saucepan and add chicken broth and water; cover saucepan and bring mixture to simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain bare simmer. This step really, really freaked me out. It all turned out okay, though, and the broth turned a really great orange color.

5. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in now-empty skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add onions, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, strain hot broth through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Return strained broth to saucepan and discard solids in strainer; cover saucepan and set over low heat to keep broth hot.

7. When wine is fully absorbed, add 3 C hot broth and half of reserved squash to rice. Simmer, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes, until liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.

8. Stir in about 1/2 C hot broth and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 3 minutes; repeat with additional broth 2 or 3 more times, until rice is al dente.

9. Off heat, stir in remaining 1 Tbsp butter, Parmesan, whipping cream, sage, and nutmeg; stir in shrimp and bacon mixture. Gently fold in remaining cooked squash.


  1. How do you think it would be without the shrimp and the pancetta? Because it sounds really good otherwise!!

  2. The original recipe didn't have the shrimp and pancetta. That part came from a different recipe, so I think it would be great w/o.

  3. Lol! Barb, you're going to find so many food related things I'm afraid shrimp.

    This recipe sounds good and seems doable for me - since I have most of the ingredients. However, what can I substitute for the wine?

  4. Look at you mixin' it up and combining two recipes like a pro. This sounds very good. I think pancetta might make my squeamishness over squash disappear. How could it not? I promise when I find my recipe I won't replace the squash with peas or corn. :o)

    Hmmm...I think Greta could replace the wine with chicken broth. I think I remember hearing that on Food Network.

  5. Yup. I'd replace the wine with a little more chicken broth. Most of the wine cooks off, so you probably won't need to sub. the same amount of broth.

    I have to admit - adding the wine is my favorite part. It smells delish as it cooks off. Brad always laughs at me because I sit with my nose above the pot until the smell is gone.