Now, when the kids' excitement is gone, we are left with pounds of candy and pumpkins still sitting on the porch. This is the once-a-year occasion when I have a pumpkin at home and can experiment with it. I have already exceeded my own expectations and posted two recipes from the pumpkin family--Squash Gnocchi and Curried Pumpkin Soup also made from Butternut Squash, which could be enough tribute to the most popular ingredient in the American cuisine, but I still have that orange, scary face looking at me from the porch. And the more I look at it the more tempted I am to cook my first truly pumpkin dish--Pumpkin Risotto. I completely forgot about it, when writing the post about my pumpkin shyness. But then, I found this recipe when I browsed in my old recipes notebook.
Years ago, I had a wonderful and delicious pumpkin dish--it was a pumpkin risotto, made by Alessandra, an Italian friend who now lives in Paris. Not only it was the best pumpkin dish I have ever eaten, but also one of the best risottos I have ever had. It was a cold and rainy February day in Paris and with a bunch of friends but we were lucky to be invited to her place for dinner. We were all tired, cold, and hungry and this smooth and warm dish with a glass of a good red wine was the best that we could have dreamed off that night. Later I obtained from her that recipe but, until now, never tried to make it myself.
Risotto like pasta can be made almost with anything. The basic preparation steps are are more or less the same, and just the additional ingredients and the finishing make a difference. I will stick to Alessandra's recipe though as the Italian family recipe is the best reference.
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice,
2 cups grated pumpkin,
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock,
2/3 cup white dry wine,
6-8 shallots or 1 large onion,
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and extra for finishing,
2 tbsp oil,
4 tbsp butter,
2 tbsp chopped parsley,
2 tbsp crème fraîche or sour cream,
salt and pepper.
1. Heat the vegetable stock in a pot and keep it hot while preparing risotto.
2. In a frying pan melt butter and oil. Add chopped onion and cook for about 3 minutes until soft and transparent.
3. Peel the pumpkin, grate it at a grater with large holes, add it to the fried onion, and cook together for about 5 minutes.
4. Add rice, stir it together, and cook until the rice becomes almost toasted.
5. Pour in wine and cook until it is absorbed.
6. Add the first cup of the hot stock to rice and cook until the rice becomes dry.
7. Repeat by adding the stock cup by cup, waiting until each portion gets absorbed. After you use 4 cups of liquid try if the rice is soft, but still al dente. If you still feel that the grains of rice are hard inside add another one or two cups of stock and cook for a little longer. The whole process should take 30-40 minutes.
8. When the risotto has the desirable softness turn off the heat. Add Parmesan and crème fraîche, stir, cover the pot, and let it stand aside for 5 minutes.
9. Serve with freshly shredded Parmesan and pepper on top.
I happen to have in my refrigerator some truffle butter brought from France--you can buy it at the Paris airport. I put a teaspoon of it on each portion, which made this simple risotto more festive and sophisticated.