Squash & Pancetta Risotto with Sautéed Apples, and Crispy Sage

by katerina on November 15, 2012

Creating great recipes from butternut squash is trivial because it has so many other things it pairs well with – and in this recipe I couldn’t help myself but add all of my favorites.

Pancetta Apple Risotto

Sautéed apples make an attractive garnish but also add a sweetness to the dish, whereas the pancetta creates a crisp texture and a savoury richness worth digging for. Probably I should have drawn the line there but who can resist a bit of fried sage?

Tip: Make sure you chop the squash small enough that it can cook in the time it takes to cook the rice. For tips on cooking good risotto read my tutorial.

Print Recipe

Squash & Pancetta Risotto with Sautéed Apples, and Crispy Sage

(serves 2-4)

4 thin slices, pancetta
8 thin slices of apple
2 teaspoons butter, seperated
a dozen fresh sage slices
~4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
1 cup finely diced butternut squash
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons soft blue cheese like Gorgonzola or 1/4 cup grated Parmagianno

The risotto is all about the garnish, so you will want to have two things on the go at once: the garnish (sautéing away and then draining on paper towels) and the risotto (stir, stir, stir!).

First dice the pancetta and place it in a skillet over medium heat. Allow it to crisp, stirring regularly. Once crisped transfer to a paper towel to drain. Add 1 teaspoon of the butter and the sage and apple slices. Fry the sage until it is browned and crispy on both sides and the apple until browned on both sides. Also transfer to a paper towel to drain once completed. (If you want to crisp up extra apples and sage, just toss them into the rice towards the end and it will be extra delicious.)

In the meantime place your broth in a saucepan and heat until very gently simmering. In a heavy medium sauce pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil and remaining butter until the butter foams. Sweat the shallot over medium-low heat, until nice and soft. Add the squash as well as a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium and stir in the rice. Cook, stirring regularly for 3 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until wine is evaporated.

Ladle in enough warm stock to cover the rice, stir regularly until it is mostly absorbed, adding more stock as necessary to keep the rice covered and continuing to stir. Stir in most of the cooked pancetta reserving some for garnish. Start tasting the risotto after about 15 minutes of adding stock, if the texture is getting close then slow down your addition of stock. Continue stirring, and adding just enough stock to keep it well moistened until it is tender. Fold in the cheese and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as necessary.

Divide between bowls and top with the crispy sage, sliced apple and any extra pancetta.

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Total Time:45 minutes
Calories(approximate per serving): 350

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Abraham November 20, 2012 at 3:02 am

Mango is an excellent substitute to squash in this dish!
It brings a brilliant sweetness to the risotto, mind you I omitted the Pancetta.


katerina November 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Mango! How interesting. I would never of thought of that, thanks for the tip.


Victoria November 21, 2012 at 2:23 am

I didn’t believe it at first but it came out quite well.
I think I over did mine just a bit because it has the consistency of hot rice pudding.
Katerina, can you do a dessert version of Abraham’s dish please?
Maybe with rice instead of risotto…


katerina November 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Risotto is rice! :) That isn’t really my style for my palette, but I would love if you tried it and reported back. Good luck!


Abraham November 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I gave Victoria’s suggestion a go and it turned out great.
I basically made a mango infused rice pudding (long grain!)
1 cup white long grain rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup of diced mango
1 cinnamon stick
1 egg

I cooked the rice untill 1/4 done, then added the rest of the ingredients and the rice (including all the water in the pot!) in a oven safe pan and cooked on low for a further 30 mins.
Almost like cake.


katerina November 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Awesome! Thanks Abraham.


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