There are many components to this dish but most all of it can be made a few days ahead, and each step is relatively easy.You will need 1 1/4 butternut squash in total for this recipe.See the table below to see how far in advance you can make things.
Several steps can be prepared 1 day ahead of time (Puree: 4 days, Stock: 3 days, Brunoise: 3 days, Risotto base: 2 days, Crispy bacon: 1 day).
Substitutions: Ocean Wise™ yellow perch is mild and sweet with delicious white flaky flesh. Replace it with any other fast cooking fish such as Arctic char. You can substitute store-bought vegetable stock for the squash stock if you are not able to make it.
Pairing Suggestion: Tom Firth: Nk’ Mip Cellars Rosé.
Recipe by Chef John Belknap from John and Sons Oyster House and taken from “The Ocean Wise Cookbook 2” ©2015 Whitecap Books Ltd.
Squash Stock (Makes about 4 cups/1 L)
Ocean Wise Yellow Perch
Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain and refrigerate when cool. Make up to three days ahead.
Cut squash into julienne strips and then turn a quarter turn and dice into 1/8-inch (3 mm) cubes. Sauté in skillet with melted butter on medium heat for 5–8 minutes or until tender. Season with salt.
Place squash pieces into a pot and add just enough water to cover bottom of pot by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover. Cook until squash becomes slightly mushy, about 20 minutes.
Purée squash and some of the cooking liquid until slightly runny. Add honey to the purée, in small quantities at a time, and taste for sweetness. Season with salt.
In a heavy pan on medium heat, sauté bacon until crispy. Drain to remove fat. Dice into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces and refrigerate.
Heat squash stock in a pot and keep warm.
On medium heat in a wide based pot, add butter. When the butter starts to foam, add the onions. Cook until translucent. Season with salt.
Add rice and stirring constantly, coat with butter until almost toasty for 2–3 minutes. Add wine to rice and stir until wine just barely evaporates. Do not to let the rice dry, always keep the rice moist with liquid. At this point, start incorporating the warm stock 1/2 cup (125 mL) at a time, stirring frequently.Keep adding liquid until the rice absorbs all the liquid. The rice should be creamy and al dente. You should have about 1 cup (250 mL) of stock leftover.
If risotto is made a day or two ahead, spread risotto base onto a parchment-lined sheet pan and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in airtight containers.
If you are planning to make the risotto immediately, you need to have all the components prepared ahead of time.
To finish risotto prepared ahead of time: Melt 3 Tbsp (45 mL) butter in a large pot and add the cold risotto. Break up risotto lumps by adding just enough stock to loosen risotto. Reheat until the texture is creamy. Add squash purée, squash brunoise, and half of the bacon. Gently combine.
If the risotto seems dry, add a little more stock. If too wet, allow the risotto to cook out a little longer on low heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, add sage leaves, and adjust seasoning. Stir well to blend all ingredients. Cover loosely while you sear fish.
To finish freshly made risotto: Add squash purée, squash brunoise and half of the bacon. Gently combine.
If the risotto seems dry, add a little more stock. If too wet, allow the risotto to cook out a little longer on low heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, add sage leaves and adjust seasoning. Stir well to blend all ingredients. Cover loosely while you sear fish.
Remove from heat, add sage leaves and adjust seasoning.
Season fillets with salt. Heat the oil and butter in large pan over medium-high heat. Place fillets skin-side down into pan, avoid overcrowding, and fry until fish is crisp around the edges and the flesh is opaque, about 4–5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the perch.
To Serve: Place risotto into a warm large-rimmed bowl or centre of a plate. Set the crispy perch on top of the risotto and sprinkle with remaining bacon.