I made this dish tonight and cut all the ingredients in 1/2. Jud and I both really enjoyed it. I opened a can of spinach, and cut up some baked chicken from the grocery store. and called it dinner. I could have eaten the Risotto as my main dish. Saffron is pretty expensive. We bought ours several years ago in a little spice store in Seattle. I couldn't believe it was fairly cheep so I bought some. It was a Spanish saffron. That might be why it was cheaper. I personally think you could leave it out and you wouldn't miss much. Let me know. The recipe comes from Barefoot Contessa - Family Style Cookbook.
1 butternut squash ( I used the other 1/2 several nights ago)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferable homemade
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Prehead oven to 400 degrees. Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and cut it into 3/4 inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups. I only had about 2 cups and it was plenty. Place the squash on a sheet pan and toss it with the olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 25-30 min. tossing once, until tender. Set aside.
Meanwhile heat the chicken stock in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute' the pancetta and shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5-10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the roasted squash cubes and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.
It is advised that the correct heat is important in making risotto. It sould be "lively", too high heat and the grains don't cook evenly, and too low heat will result in a gluey mess. It should cook in 30 min. I cooked mine on 1 notch from the medium marker toward the low. It was perfect. We really enjoyed it.