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Monday, January 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon and Scallops

I had two great meals over the holidays. One was when my aunt treated the family to dinner at Carpe Diem; the other was when our Quincy friends Karen and Judy visited and took Leigh Ann and me to Good Food. Both amazing meals included a similar dish, a risotto or orzo with citrus and butternut squash and bacon.

So, I decided to recreate this in my kitchen. Step 1: BACON. I found an extra-thick version I will likely be buying from now on, Oscar Mayer's Bacon Lover's Super Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon. "That is some gooood bacon," my sister said. 
Step 2: Peel, cube and cook the butternut squash. I chose to boil it, but it could also be roasted.
Step 3: I cleaned and chopped two large leeks and sauteed them in some of the reserved bacon fat.
Step 4: Make the risotto. I just tweaked a basic risotto recipe I found online, so I added 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice to the leeks and sauteed the grains in the mixture until they were coated. Then I added 1/2 cup good white wine and let it bubble until it was absorbed by the rice. I heated 5 cups of chicken broth in a separate pot and started ladling the hot stock into the pot, bit by bit, stirring the rice constantly as the liquid was absorbed.
Step 5: Once the risotto was ready, I added the butternut squash (not quite as soft as I would have liked it...I really wanted it to sort of mash into the risotto) and a generous 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan, along with the zest of one orange (might have gone a little too heavy on that).
Step 6: I sauteed the scallops in the cast iron skillet in which I'd cooked the bacon. Scallops are something I haven't really mastered. I think you're supposed to really dry them and use a non-stick pan in order to get that fabulous crisp crust on them? I need to experiment a little more, but when you have bacon grease on hand, you have to put it to good use!
And this was the finished dish!
It was very good, but not quite as fabulous as what I enjoyed in the restaurants...guess that means I'll have to return.
Leigh Ann and I were both feeling creative that night, so we had the risotto as a small first course, and then she made some lobster tails with asparagus. She baked them in foil with butter and lemon and added some asparagus. Delicious!