Icebox risotto

February 23, 2009


Cleaning the refrigerator had been long overdue.  So I finally screwed up the courage this past weekend, and while doing so made an inventory of the bits of food that needed to be used soon.  I’m trying to get better about using all the food we purchase, so I let those found bits drive what I was going to prepare.  What I had to work with: 2 chicken breasts, 2 carrots, 1/2 cup cream, 1 red bell pepper, 1 acorn squash, 5 green onions, salad greens, 3 strips of bacon, 1 baby bok choy, 1 tomato, 2 cups rice.  I decided to use the majority of the ingredients for a risotto and the rest for making kimchi and a miso soup.  I had never made risotto before and I was in the mood to pair a dish with wine, so I dug out Andrea Immer’s, Everyday Dining with Wine. The Butternut squash with bacon and Sage risotto recipe, paired with a dry Riesling, was the winner.

The wine


Neither of us could remember tasting a true dry Riesling before.  We chose one from Alsace.  The nose on this wine was subtle but nice.  Neither of us could really nail the bouquet in words.  I was thinking of a light floral and Melissa was thinking of grass.  The color was light gold, I’m guessing due to the age of the wine.  The taste was one dimensional and I don’t mean that in a negative sense.  It had a light citrus quality, reminiscent of lemon.  It didn’t clash with the “vinaigrette” dressing I made with lemon juice, mustard and canola oil.  The pairing with the risotto was equally as successful.   The Riesling offset the richness of the dish, subtly cleansing the pallet.

The Risotto

I made a few modifications to the recipe in order to fit in the leftover ingredients.  Acorn squash was substituted for the butternut squash.  I added chicken, red bell pepper and cream to the recipe.


  • 7 cups chicken stock
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Bring the stock to simmer in a saucepan, then reduce heat so the stock is just under a simmer.  Saute chicken and peppers, then lower heat and keep warm.  In the pan you plan to cook your risotto, crisp bacon and pull out to cool.  Pour off bacon fat and add 1 tablespoon of butter.  Once butter has melted, cook shallot until translucent, then  stir in sage and squash.  Add wine and 1 cup stock, bring to a light simmer and cook squash till it’s softened.  Add rice and 1 cup stock, stir frequently until rice just absorbs stock.  Keep adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, until rice becomes al dente.  Stir in remaining butter, Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, chicken and bell pepper.  Plate and top with crumbled bacon to serve.

By Kenton