While risotto does require your attention, it is really quite simple to prepare, especially if you enlist your kids to help stir the pot. Once you get the basic formula down, you can make any number of varieties. This one, with lovely orange cubes of butternut squash, is wonderful in the cooler months, and makes for a cozy dinner when served with a salad and a hot, crusty loaf of bread.
Roast butternut squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a baking pan with sides, toss butternut squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until very tender. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock with a pinch of saffron threads in a small covered saucepan. When hot, reduce heat to low to keep warm.
In another larger saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil with 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally until pancetta becomes crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
Add shallots and cook until softened, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in rice, making sure each grain is coated with the fat from the pan. Add wine and stir until wine evaporates. Begin adding hot stock, half of a cup at a time, stirring occasionally after each addition, until stock evaporates.
Repeat with remaining stock, until rice is tender and creamy, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and butternut squash. Top with reserved pancetta and additional Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.