Butternut Squash Risotto with Crispy Maple Bacon

The perfect Halloween dinner - a beautifully creamy, savoury risotto.

six o clock show butternut squash Aisling Larkin


It is mid October, I am currently the size of a baby elephant ( no offence to the elephants)  and as the pregnancy hormones develop, the tiredness kicks in and the days get chillier I am so content in my test kitchen working on developing new recipes and techniques.

With my two little ladies to be fed at home every evening and my growing bump making me crave carbs this is the perfect Autumnal family meal.

Risotto can freak people out sometimes with every Italian chef and Nonna having their own rules and cultural traditions about how to make it perfectly!!!

Life is not about perfection –  life is about creativity, fun, delicious food, happiness and family !

So stop worrying about perfection and allow me to tell you a couple of the scientific elements that will make your risotto delicious and lovely for all the family to enjoy!

5 Simple Scientific Guides for Making GREAT Risotto 

  1. Buy the RIGHT RICE  –  it will be labelled as arborio rice, risotto rice or if you see something called carnaroli rice grab that. These rices are short grain and have a high starch ( amylopectin ) content which gives it the creamy texture.
  2. Start with some vegetable oil and butter and SLOWLY COOK THE ONIONS. No brown colour if possible.
  3. Turn up the heat and TOAST THE RICE for just a minute  –  again no brown colour.
  4. Add hot stock and stir with a WOODEN SPATULA. The more you stir the better (they say). I say stir as often as you can in between picking up toys off the floor, getting someone a drink and requesting the tv be turned down for the millionth time. At the end whip / beat in cold butter and grated parmesan vigorously for about 1 minute. This is what gets you your creamy, rich texture.
  5. Only ever add TWO EXTRA FLAVOURS. Risotto is meant to be about simplicity. Seasoning is important so do season well and try to balance out flavours with a a little sweetness ( from the onions cooking long and slow, the butternut squash and the maple syrup) savoury from the stock, salty from the addition of crispy bacon in this recipe and that umami flavour from the parmesan. Hit it up with a tiny squeeze of  lemon juice at the end to add that tart, fresh zing.

For the full video recipe head on over to the Virgin Media Player where you can watch my slot from the Six O Clock Show live.

With fun & deliciousness,


What You'll Need

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp oil

1 butternut squash ( 600g peeled and chopped ) 

1 onion

2 cloves garlic 

400g arborio risotto rice

100mls apple juice 

700mls stock ( vegetable or chicken ) 

8 slices streaky maple cured bacon / pancetta

2 tbsp maple syrup

50g butter

70g parmesan cheese




Large saucepan and lid

Chopping board and sharp knife

Medium saucepan


Wooden spatula



How to Do It

Five Steps to Perfect Risotto

  1. 1Prepare everything - mise en place !
    Prepare the vegetables. Buy a bag of peeled and diced butternut squash or else peel and chop yourself.
    Put the butternut squash on to boil. Season the water well and cook until tender.
    Peel and dice the onion and garlic.
    Drizzle the bacon with maple syrup and lay on on oven tray lined with parchment paper.
    Bake in the oven for 7mins. Flip half way through cooking time.
    Grate the parmesan
    Weight out and chill the butter
    Make up the stock and add in the apple juice to warm through.

  2. 2Heat up the saucepan, melt the butter and oil and add in the onion. Sweat off for about 7 minutes then add in the garlic. Cook for a further 2 mins.
    Add the rice to the pan. Stir well to make sure that every grain is coated with some butter and toast for a minute or two. Do not brown the rice .
    Gradually begin adding in the stock to the rice. The key here is not to add into quickly. Slowly add in more after the last batch has been absorbed .

  3. 3Drain the sweet potato and blitz in the food processor.
    Continue to add the stock and then pour in the puree butternut squash. Pop the lid on and allow to steam or continue to stir until the rice is soft and creamy. Season to taste.

  4. 4When the rice is soft and to your liking, pop in the butter and parmesan and begin to whip it together for a minute or two with the wooden spatula.

  5. 5Serve spoonfuls of risotto into warm bowls and then top with the crispy maple bacon and parmesan.

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