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Randy Mayor; Jan Gautro Photo by: Randy Mayor; Jan Gautro

Risotto with Butternut Squash, Pancetta, and Jack Cheese

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.

Cooking Light OCTOBER 2004

  • Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup)

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)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 475°.

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.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

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

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.)

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.

Perfect wine: Clos du Val Chardonnay 2001 (Carneros, CA), $21. 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.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 423
  • Calories from fat: 30%
  • Fat: 14.2g
  • Saturated fat: 5.5g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 5.6g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.9g
  • Protein: 14.5g
  • Carbohydrate: 57.3g
  • Fiber: 6.6g
  • Cholesterol: 28mg
  • Iron: 2mg
  • Sodium: 783mg
  • Calcium: 235mg
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Risotto with Butternut Squash, Pancetta, and Jack Cheese recipe

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