Pumpkin Risotto!

15 Oct

I absolutely love everything about fall… the colors, the gorgeous weather, and, of course, the food. I’ll eat pretty much anything with the word “pumpkin” or “squash” in the title, and while apples aren’t my favorite fruit to eat plain, I love apple desserts. So I knew I had to buy a butternut squash when I saw them at the farmer’s market last weekend, and immediately knew what to make with it: risotto. One bonus with this recipe is that the squash doesn’t get peeled until after you’ve roasted it—I know I get scared off by any recipe that starts with “cut and peel the squash!”

Ready for roasting

I love risotto because you can put pretty much anything into it. Once you’ve learned the basic technique, it’s easy to play around and throw in what you have in your kitchen. I made an awesome version this summer with pancetta and peach, but this squash version is probably my all-time favorite, and I always look forward to having it come fall.  This recipe is from the River Café cookbook (unfortunately, as with a lot of our family cookbooks, the measurements are English… I’ve done my best to convert). I don’t think it’s crucial to be very exacting with measurements when it comes to risotto: I don’t tend to measure the broth, I just know when it’s done because the rice is cooked and creamy! I cut down on the rice this time because my squash was pretty small and I wanted a good ratio, and I left out the alcohol but it was still delicious. The key is really in the technique more than anything: you want to really constantly massage the broth into the rice. It’s a pretty labor-intensive dish, but doesn’t take too long once the squash is roasted (which I did a couple of hours ahead of time). So give it a try some time! Just please, don’t try to make risotto what it is not: fat-free, or non-caloric. Just accept the cheese.

For size reference, my squash was slightly bigger than a Tigger stapler

Pumpkin Risotto, Adapted from The River Café Cookbook

Equipment: Baking sheet, tin foil, bowl, saucepan, heavy-bottomed frying pan, ladle, wooden spoon, cheese grater, large knife.

About 2 pounds (850 g) pumpkin or squash, whole or 1 large slice, with skin
Sea salt and black pepper
1 bunch fresh or 1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thickly sliced
5 tbsp olive oil
4 cups (1 liter) low sodium chicken stock
1 ¼ sticks (5 oz) butter, at room temperature
1 medium onion, preferably red, finely diced
10 oz (300 g) risotto rice
1/3rd cup (75 ml) extra dry white vermouth, or white wine
6 oz Parmesan, freshly grated

Preheat the oven to 425 F/ 220 C

Remove seeds and fiber from the center of the pumpkin or squash, and cut the flesh and skin into large chunks. Place, skin side down, on a baking tray brushed with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter with the herbs and garlic. Pour over three tablespoons of oil, cover with tin foil and bake until soft, shriveled, and beginning to brown at edges, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then scrape the flesh from the skins and reserve with the juices.

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan on the stove. You can turn off the heat and cover with a lid once it is hot. Meanwhile, melt 6 tbsp of the butter and remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and gently fry the onion until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Add the rice and, off the heat, stir until the rice becomes totally coated, this only takes a minute. Return to the heat, and add enough hot stock to just cover the rice, about 2 ladlefuls. Simmer, stirring, until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid. Continue to add more stock as each previous addition is absorbed. After about 15-20 minutes, nearly all the stock will have been absorbed by the rice; each grain will have a creamy coating, but will remain al dente.

Add the remaining butter in small pieces, the pumpkin, vermouth and Parmesan. Be careful not to overstir so the pumpkin doesn’t break up. Serve immediately. Leftovers can be kept in fridge and reheat fairly well.


2 Responses to “Pumpkin Risotto!”

  1. Alida Christie October 15, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    I LOVE pumkins too. Here in Topsham Darts Farm is full of big orange pumkins and I’ve been making lots of Pumpkin Soup. Roast the pumpkin in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper (Gas Mark 8) til crisp round the edges. It takes on an almost caramel quality. Try not to eat all the pumkin while frying up an equal quantity of carrot with half a large onion, some cumin and corriander. When softened add the pumpkin and some vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and purree. It’s so yummy. Serve with a slice of gruyere on toast. I think I might try out your squash risotto although I do think your squash is considerably bigger than a tigger stapler!

  2. Alida Christie October 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    THat was meant to say gas mark eight

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