Flavors Of Autumn: Creamy Butternut, Bacon and Shrimp Risotto With Orange Sauce

Try this delicious dish as your main meal, tonight for a taste of Italy in the fall.

Who said your side dish can’t double as your meal?

With autumn weather in full swing, warm risotto is the perfect go-to comfort food, especially when paired with seasonal vegetables, like roasted butternut squash seasoned with just a hint of cinnamon. Of course, a little bacon always makes it better; and while we’re at it, how about tossing in a handful of jumbo shrimp? Sounds like a meal to me!

Risotto is an Italian rice dish made by first sauteing the rice in olive oil or butter, before slowly and continuously adding broth for the rice to absorb. It lends itself to being the perfect base for any vegetable or protein additions to stretch it out as a full meal. 

The best part about risotto is the incomparable flavor. Plain rice pales in comparison to the rich, creaminess of risotto. Although it cooks in generally the same amount of time as rice, it does take a bit more effort and care, as the liquid needs to be monitored, and after 30 minutes of cooking time, the risotto needs to be tasted every few minutes to check for doneness.

Not a drop was spared, but my kids were surprisingly satiated, as the dish is deceivingly filling- yet another bonus!

The minute this dish hit the table, there was not a word spoken amongst the appreciative “oooh’s” and “aaah’s.” I hope your family loves this dish as much as we did! Enjoy!

To prepare the risotto:

  • 1 butternut squash*, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks
  • 6 slices of bacon**, baked and crumbled
  • 1 package risotto***
  • 15-20 frozen shrimp, thawed
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 T. butter, divided in half
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1- 1 ½ c. romano or parmasan cheese
  • ½ c. chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ c. white wine
  • 1 box (32 oz.) vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the orange sauce

1 c. orange juice
2 T. butter
2 T. sugar
¼ c. orange liquer

*Place chunks of squash in a glass casserole dish. Top with 2 T. of the butter broken up, and the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until golden colored and soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and set aside.

**Use your broiling pan to lay out your bacon slices, and place that in the oven on a separate rack to bake. Turn once after 20 minutes and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into chunks, or crumble. (Hint: I use poultry scissors, which I find easier to handle)

***Prepare risotto. According to the instructions on the package, the risotto goes into heated pan of olive oil on low, after the shallots have "sweat," and here is my interpretation of the instructions:

Place diced shallots in a heated saute pan with olive oil. Allow to coat and sweat; add the risotto, turning to coat with oil. Add 1 tsp of salt, and a crank of pepper (about ¼ tsp). Next add ½ c. of dry white wine (or sherry).

Take a full 32 oz. container of vegetable or chicken broth and heat it  through in a dish in the microwave. Using a ladle, add broth to risotto to keep it moist throughout the cooking process. Add about ½ cup of liquid every 5 minutes and continue to stir for 30-40 minutes to get the risotto al dente. Taste your risotto at 30 minutes to see if it is cooked al dente, soft but still tacky, not mushy and not raw. When the risotto is al dente, add the shrimp and bacon, and stir to combine. Add the final 2 T. butter, 1 ½ c. grated romano or parmesan cheese, parsley and squash, folding to combine.
Serves 6.

Orange Sauce:

In a small saucepan heat the orange juice and sugar, on low for five minutes to reduce. Increase heat to medium and slowly bring to boil. Whisk in the butter, allowing the sauce to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in the liquer. Serve as a sauce under risotto.


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