Baked butternut squash risotto is everything you want out of comfort food. It’s rich and creamy without any cream and is full of texture with caramelized butternut squash and crispy bacon. The best part? The whole thing gets baked to perfection in the oven – no stirring required!
I love risotto. It’s a dish I love ordering at a restaurant, but I also enjoy making my own at home. It’s a lot easier to make than you might think. Especially the version I’m going to share with you today!
Risotto seems to be a dish that scares people. I suppose it’s all the stirring involved. Personally, I find the risotto process to be calming. Standing at the stove focusing on making perfectly creamy risotto and watching the little grains absorb liquid and plump up relaxes me. It’s the little things.
However, risotto is a clingy dish to make. You can’t really walk away from it and if you live in a distracting environment (like I currently do…. hello mobile 11 month old), well then risotto isn’t on your list of go-to recipes.
Baked Butternut Squash Risotto
This risotto only requires a short time on the stovetop before it goes into the oven for the majority of the cooking. That means no slaving over the stove for 20+ minutes!
First up we render the bacon so that we have that delicious, flavorful fat to cook the rest of the ingredients in. We’ll save the crispy bacon for topping our risotto.
Before caramelizing the butternut squash, I like to fry up a few sprigs of rosemary. Just toss the leaves into the hot bacon fat. Not only does the flavor perfume the rest of the dish, but then you have a delicious garnish for on top.
The next part is crucial: caramelizing the butternut squash. I like to do this in two batches for two reasons.
- We want the squash to have adequate cooking space so that it can actually caramelize and not just steam and get mushy.
- One batch we will save for mixing in at the end and the other will cook along with the risotto.
It may sound complicated to split the squash up, but I really love the textural difference it offers. The half that cooks with the risotto gets super tender and when we do the big stir at the end, it will break down a bit and blend nicely into the risotto. The other half that we’ve reserved will hold its shape nicely and look pretty throughout the dish.
Once we have our squash all cooked up we’ll add in shallots and garlic and sauté until fragrant. Then, we’ll toast the rice grains. This is the most important step in making risotto. It’s what allows the grains to cook evenly and give us that classic toothsome texture we look for in risotto.
Now, add most of the liquid. We want to reserve a cup and stir it in at the end, little by little so that we get the creaminess and it loosens up a bit. Pop it in the oven and go do something else while you wait. You would never be able to do that while cooking risotto on the stove!
When your timer rings, pull the pot out of the oven, give the risotto a few good stirs and then add extra liquid as needed and the reserved squash. The garnishes are the best part here. Cover the top with parm, the crispy bacon, and a few crispy rosemary leaves.
All that’s left now is to enjoy each heart-warming bite.
- 2 Slices Thick Bacon chopped
- 2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary leaves removed
- 2 lbs. Butternut Squash peeled, seeded, and diced into bite-sized cubes
- ½ Teaspoon Salt plus more
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper plus more
- 1 Shallot thinly sliced
- 2 Garlic Cloves finely minced
- 1 ½ Cups Arborio Rice
- ½ Cup Vermouth
- 4 -5 Cups Chicken Stock
- Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Preheat the oven to 375º.
Add the bacon to a dutch oven (at least 4 quart in size) and turn the heat to medium. Allow the bacon to render slowly until it shrinks up and starts crisping. Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Set aside for garnish.
Add the rosemary leaves to the hot bacon fat and sauté until fragrant and the leaves deepen in color. Transfer to the plate with the bacon.
Add half of the butternut squash to the pan and season with half of the salt and pepper. Saute until the squash is tender and golden brown all over, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the squash to a plate and set aside.
Add the other half of the squash (you can add some olive oil if you need to) and season with the rest of the salt and pepper. Cook the squash until it just begins to caramelize and then add in the shallots and garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the rice and allow it to toast for about 2 minutes. Stir in the vermouth and allow it to fully evaporate before pouring in 4 cups of chicken stock. Give it a good stir, cover the pot, and transfer it to the preheated oven.
Cook the risotto for 20-25 minutes or until the risotto has absorbed most of the liquid and is al dente.
Give the risotto a few good stirs, adding liquid if needed. Stir in the reserved squash and taste for seasoning.
Serve the risotto topped with cheese and the reserved bacon and rosemary. Enjoy!