Roasted Kabocha and Mushroom Risotto

5 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 red kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
1 sweet onion, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
16 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup Grana Padano cheese, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 oz diced pancetta
3-4 sprigs’ worth of thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange the squash in a single layer on a parchement-lined baking sheet. Bake until fork-tender, about 30 minutes.

In a saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the pancetta and saute 1 minute. Add the onion and saute until the onion is translucent. Scrape into to a large, heavy bottom pot. Add the rice, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring continually. Add the broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before each addition.

Meanwhile, saute the mushroom in the pan the pancetta was in until fully cooked. Toss in the squash and thyme. Stir to evenly divide ingredients.

When you are about two-thirds of the way through the broth, add the squash, thyme, and mushroom mixture n to the rice. Continue to add broth and stir. When the risotto is creamy and the rice is al dente remove from heat and stir in the Grana Padano.

My thoughts:

I love getting the local produce boxes from our produce delivery service. I admit I do skip them occasionally in the winter because so few things are in season locally but I always get them when they have fun varieties of squash like this pretty red kabocha squash. It has a super-thin skin and the bright orange flesh is so fun and a bit sweeter than pumpkin. I like to roast it to caramelize the sugars a bit and deepen the flavor. It makes a great addition to risotto because it holds its shape well but still turns the dish a delightful shade of orange. I added mushrooms and thyme for some earthiness and the pancetta adds a salty, savory note.

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