I’ve been playing around with risotto quite a bit in the last few months, and it has become one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s warm, and creamy, and deeply satisfying. Of all the versions I’ve been playing with, this pumpkin version has to be my favorite so far. Risotto is one of those dishes that always prompts one of my cooking rants. Let me dispel a commonly held misconception about risotto….. It. Is. Not. Difficult. Seriously! It’s actually very simple. However, it is a little time consuming, but well worth the 20 to 30 minutes you’ll spend on it. This is a dish that needs to be stirred most of the time. In this particular recipe I don’t use any wine. I think pumpkin is rather delicate in flavor, and the flavor of wine gets in the way of the pumpkin, in my opinion. If you need instructions for roasted pumpkin, I did that the other day.
32 ounces chicken stock (vegetable stock if you would like to keep it ovo-lacto vegetarian)
3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced (I’m a little onion crazy and used more)
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup roasted pumpkin (I use 1/2 cup cubed and 1/2 cup mashed)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (please, please, Please use freshly grated, and not that horrible sawdust in a shaker bottle. It really does make a difference)
Salt to taste
Place chicken stock in a pan, bring to a simmer, then turn down the heat. Keep chicken stock just shy of simmering while preparing the risotto. While you’re heating up the stock, in a wide shallow pan, over medium high heat, soften onion in olive oil . Once the onion has softened a bit, add the garlic and Arborio rice. Cook the rice for 3 or 4 minutes stirring constantly, making sure you don’t brown the rice. You just want it to be a little translucent around the edges.
Next, add one or two ladles full of your chicken stock, stirring frequently until the stock is absorbed. The rate at which to add the stock is one of those hotly debated subjects among chefs. Some say never add more than 1 ladle at a time. Others say you can add as much as 1/4 the entire amount at the first addition. Personally, I’ve tried it both ways, and didn’t seen any difference in the finished recipe. Anyway, after your first addition of stock, continue adding one ladle full at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before each new addition. While the rice is cooking, you will need to stir frequently. I know most chefs out there make a HUGE deal out of stirring constantly. Honestly, I stop stirring for a minute or so while I attend to other small kitchen tasks. I’ll wash a couple of dishes ….stir, stir, stir. I’ll walk over to the table to set out plates and silverware….stir, stir, stir. I’ll set out the drinking glasses and silverware….stir, stir, stir. I’ll put away a few dry dishes, wipe down the counter top….stir, stir, stir. You get the point. Since I will be serving a meal as soon as the rice is finished, I use the time between stirring to make sure the rest of the meal will be ready.
When the last addition of stock is almost completely absorbed, gently mix in the pumpkin. Cook it another couple of minutes so the pumpkin heats through and the liquid finishes absorbing. Add the butter and Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted into the rice. Add salt to taste and serve with a fresh grating of nutmeg.