This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving, so I decided to do something that could spice up your turkey. I’m talking about spicing it up in terms of flavour, not spicing it up like making a turkey bikini.

I absolutely love butternut squash, and it’s finally in season. When I walked into my local grocery store, there were piles and piles of them at the front. I knew I had to do something with it since bacon and squash go so well together. I find I say that a lot – “bacon and *insert food here* go so well together”. Coincidence? I think not. Bacon compliments everything. If you and bacon were walking down the street together, I’d bet he’d comment on how nice you looked or how much he liked your shirt. Bacon is just THAT complimentary. I digress…

This dish is special because it can stand alone as well, although it will work best as a stuffing to your thanksgiving turkey. You can make this as a rice side dish (or even main course) for any occasion. But for thanksgiving, I recommend you do this a day ahead and stuff your turkey the next morning just before you cook it. I’m bringing mine to my family’s thanksgiving dinner to use!

Ingredients:

8 strips Maple Leaf Bacon

1 Medium Sized Butternut Squash

1 Onion

4 tbsp Olive Oil

5 tbsp Unsalted Butter

8 Sage leaves

2½ Cups Arborio Rice

1½ tbsp Saffron

1 cup Dry White Wine

6 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock

1 cup Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

 

1. Prep, prep, prep! Set your oven to 400°F, and pour your stock into a pot to heat up on the back burner. We need hot stock for this recipe. Peel and cut your butternut squash into ¾” cubes, dice your onion and chop your bacon up into small pieces. You can also grate your Parmigiano Reggiano at this point, and set it aside in the fridge.

2. Put all of your squash into a bowl and toss with olive oil, a bit of salt and some pepper. Arrange this squash on a baking sheet and whack it in your oven for about 20 minutes. Don’t forget to move them around after about ten minutes.

3. While your squash is roasting, melt your butter in a pan. Throw in your sage leaves and fry them until they are crispy. Once this happens, remove the sage leaves and let them dry on a paper towel. You can save them for presentation later. Set your butter aside, as well, to cool slightly.

4. Throw your chopped bacon into a fairly large sauce pot. Fry it up until it’s almost crispy and then add your onions. I left my onions fairly large when I chopped them because I didn’t want them to get lost at the end. Continue frying until the onions are soft. Remember to keep scraping the bottom of the pan so you pick up all that flavour!

5. Add your rice and the sage infused butter that we’ve just made and toast the rice. If you think that there isn’t enough butter to coat all of the rice, you can add a bit more olive oil or butter. You should also add your saffron at this point. Keep the rice moving so everything mixes together and none of the rice burns at the bottom of the pan.

6. The next little bit will be precisely like the risotto from the Bacon Mushroom Risotto. You’re going to add your wine, then add your stock little by little and keep stirring to release all of the starch from the rice that will keep it together. If you’ve never done this before, check out the Bacon Mushroom Risotto for details.

TIP: If you’re in a bind, you can boil your rice as per the instructions on the bag, but do it in the chicken stock, not water. Then you can stir everything together after. Since you won’t have that starch to keep everything together, add some fresh breadcrumbs as a binding agent.

7. Once the rice is perfectly ‘al dente’, take it off the heat. Your squash should have also come out of the oven by now. Stir in your squash and your grated cheese. Since you’re using this as a stuffing, Put it in a bowl and let it cool until you’re turkey is ready to be stuffed. If you’re not using it as a stuffing, eat it! Eat it while it’s hot! Go! Eat! Why are you still here! GO!