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Risotto with Butternut Squash, Pancetta, and Jack Cheese

Randy Mayor; Jan Gautro
Yield 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)
Chardonnay is a varietal that's difficult to pair with foods. But the creamy, buttery sweetness of butternut squash makes a good complement to wine. The same is true of tarragon, which in small amounts is a delicious backdrop for most chardonnays. Utterly satisfying, this pairing is comfort food and comfort wine at its best.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Madeira wine or sweet Marsala
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 4 ounces chopped pancetta
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
  • 2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) 1/2-inch-cubed Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)

Nutrition Information

  • calories 423
  • caloriesfromfat 30 %
  • fat 14.2 g
  • satfat 5.5 g
  • monofat 5.6 g
  • polyfat 1.9 g
  • protein 14.5 g
  • carbohydrate 57.3 g
  • fiber 6.6 g
  • cholesterol 28 mg
  • iron 2 mg
  • sodium 783 mg
  • calcium 235 mg

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 475°.

  2. Place squash on a nonstick jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 20 minutes or until tender, turning after 10 minutes.

  3. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

  4. Combine broth, water, wine, and tarragon in a saucepan; bring to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat.

  5. Cook pancetta in a large ovenproof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan; drain on a paper towel. Discard pan drippings. Add onion and oil to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add rice to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. (Do not stir; rice will have a liquid consistency similar to stew.)

  6. Place pan in oven; bake at 325° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir in the squash, pancetta, cheese, salt, and pepper. Cover with a clean cloth; let stand 10 minutes (rice will continue to cook). Sprinkle with pine nuts. Garnish with tarragon sprigs, if desired.

  7. Perfect wine: Clos du Val Chardonnay 2001 (Carneros, CA), $ This chardonnay has refined flavors reminiscent of custard, caramel, apple tarts, and honey. There's a hint of oak, but the wine is not superbuttery, oaky, or toasty. This wine is complemented by the savoriness of the rice and the sweetness of the squash.