Presented by Chef Luca Paris, host of A Culinary Journey with Luca Paris and Co-owner of Luca's Mediterranean Café and The Market at Luca's.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, small dice
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 pound Arborio rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup dry tart cherries
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup ricotta salata cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Roast halves cut side up on a baking sheet for 50 minutes or until the flesh is just tender. Let the squash cool for 20 minutes. Spoon out the flesh, chop it, but do not damage the skin, and add it to the risotto. Keep the skins for service.
Bring chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.
Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned. Add the shallots, stirring until softened. Pour in the Arborio rice and cook for 4 minutes, stirring until well coated. Turn the heat to high and add the white wine; simmer until mostly absorbed. Add the hot stock _ cup at a time, stirring constantly until absorbed by the rice. Continue to add stock _ cup at a time, stirring to release the starch.
Check rice for doneness after 25 minutes; rice should be al dente but cooked through. Stir in sage, thyme, kosher salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons of butter. Gently fold in the squash and tart cherries.
Place the acorn squash shell on a large plate, slicing a little off the bottom to create a flat surface. Add the risotto to the squash skin bowl. Shave ricotta salata over the top and enjoy.