Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin is pretty naturally sweet, so don’t be bashful with the salt and cheese.

4-5 c/1-1.25 L vegetable broth
2 T olive oil
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
500 g arborio or carnaroli rice
0.5 c/100 mL dry white wine
1 c/225 mL pumpkin purée
1 t dried thyme
1 t ground black pepper
salt to taste
2 T butter
1 c/225 g grated Parmesan, divided

Heat oil in large deep skillet to medium and bring broth to a low simmer. Sauté shallots and garlic until tender and fragrant. Add rice and stir until coated with oil and starting to smell toasty. Add wine and stir until mostly evaporated. Start adding broth by ladleful, stirring constantly. When the pan starts to look dry, add another ladle of broth. After adding about half of the broth, add the pumpkin, thyme and pepper. Taste and add salt, if needed. Keep adding broth until it’s gone. Once all broth is in, remove skillet from heat, stir in butter and half of cheese thoroughly, cover skillet and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with cheese for sprinkling.

Radicchio Risotto

How much respect do you give radicchio? Probably not much, but that ought to change.

I never thought much about it before last year. On our last big grocery run to Italy, it refused to be ignored. We were in the major radicchio production region at peak harvest, so it was everywhere. And with good reason! I’d always thought of it as that bitter, purple and white stuff you threw in a salad to brighten it up and nothing more. But it’s a not just any lettuce, it’s a chicory and can be cooked. It takes on a bit more sweetness as it wilts, while retaining some of the characteristic bitterness. And in this recipe from Serious Eats (with the requisite tweaks), it’s paired with pancetta. You could probably use regular bacon, but if you can get your hands on the pancetta, it’s worth it.

4 T olive oil
100 g (1/4 lb) pancetta, chopped into lardons
2 heads Chioggia radicchio, cored and chopped to bite-size
salt & pepper to taste
2 shallots, minced
3 cloves garlic, pressed
500 g (2 c) risotto rice
3/4 c white wine
5 c hot chicken broth
2 T butter
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese

In a deep skillet, heat 2 T olive oil over medium-low heat. Add pancetta and fry until beginning to crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Next add radicchio by the handful, stirring each addition to coat with fat. When all radicchio is in, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 7 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside (or transfer radicchio mixture to a warm bowl and wipe out skillet if you want to use the same pan).

Heat the other 2 T olive oil to medium-low in a deep, wide skillet. Add shallots and garlic and cook until just translucent, then add rice and stir to coat with fat, cooking for about 2-3 minutes. Add wine and stir frequently until mostly absorbed, then start adding your chicken broth (it should be at a gentle simmer) by the ladleful. Stir after each broth addition and when almost completely absorbed, add the next. When you’ve added half the broth, stir the radicchio-pancetta mixture in the risotto.

Finish adding the broth by the ladleful. With the last addition, remove from heat, stir in butter and cheese and cover for 5 minutes. Serve with extra cheese or a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

Pumpkin Risotto

I made a lot of pumpkin purée last fall, which took up residence in the freezer. In an effort to continue the meat detox from our KC trip and clear out some of the longer-term freezer occupants, finally got to try this recipe. As I already have neutral pumpkin purée (so I can go sweet or savory), I changed a few aspects of the original and the recipe below will reflect what I did.

This risotto has a texture that is completely extraordinary. As in many things involving pumpkin, it’s subtly sweet and velvety. While cooking, it becomes much saucier than I’m used to. I think that makes it extra important that you let it rest, covered and off the burner, after finishing.

2 T olive oil
2 large or 3 small shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 c/500 g arborio rice
1 c white wine
1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 t dried thyme
5-6 c/1.25-1.5 l chicken or vegetable broth (must be at a simmer when added to rice)
1 c/250 g pumpkin purée
1 c/250 g grated parmesan cheese, divided
2 T butter

In a wide, deep lidded skillet, heat oil to medium. Sauté the shallots and garlic to just tender, then add rice to skillet, stirring frequently and coating well with oil.

Add white wine to skillet and, stirring constantly, cook until liquid is almost completely cooked off. Add pepper and thyme, lower heat to low, stir and start adding broth by the ladle. When one ladleful cooks off, add another, stirring all the time.

When about two thirds of the broth is added, stir in the pumpkin purée. The texture will change and the sauce will become quite thick and possibly splattery. Right before the last broth addition, turn the burner off and add the cheese and butter.

After stirring in the last bit of broth, put the lid on the skillet, take it off the hot burner and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Bacon Leek Risotto

We’ve been experimenting with risotto lately. Now that I’m an avowed maker of my own stocks, I occasionally have more than I can store and risotto is a great way to use up 4-6 cups at a time. Plus, the ritual of adding the broth and stirring is strangely relaxing. We stocked up on Arborio and Carnaroli rice on our road trip to Italy, so we’ve got plenty of risotto ingredients. This recipe from the (adorably named) blog Rootie Tootie Fresh & Foodie has been a go-to of ours for a while now.

5 c chicken broth
1 T olive oil
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 leeks, sliced into rounds
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 c Arborio rice
3/4 c dry white wine
3 T chopped parsley (plus more for topping)
1 T butter
2 T parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for topping)

Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan and cover to keep warm.

Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until edges are beginning to crisp. Remove bacon drippings except for 1 tablespoon and add leeks to skillet. Stir leeks frequently (if pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil) until beginning to soften. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes.

Add rice to skillet, stir well until all grains are glossy, about 2 minutes. Add wine to skillet and stir until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth (about 1 ladle-full) to skillet and stir constantly. When most of the broth is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup and repeat this process (always stirring) until rice is tender but firm to bite and sauce is creamy – about 20-25 minutes.

When you’re happy with the texture, add the parsley, butter and cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and remove from heat. Allow risotto to stand for 1-2 minutes before serving.

Lemon Risotto

We’d just returned from Italy with all kinds of ideas and experiences and raw materials for good food prepared at home — welcome, after being on-the-go for so much of September, October and November. We had a few lemons (from the Biomarkt) and shallots and garlic to use up, plus arborio rice and Pecorino Romano cheese from our grocery expeditions.

The original recipe came from our swell How to Cook Everything app (thank you Mark Bittman!), but the version below has our enhancements in it.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Large pinch saffron threads
1½ cups arborio rice
½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
4 to 6 cups (950 ml to 1400 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
2 to 4 tablespoons softened butter
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet to medium. Then add the shallots, garlic and saffron, and cook, stirring constantly, until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it is glossy and coated with the oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine. Stir and let the liquid bubble away.

Use a ladle to begin adding the stock, a ladlefull or so at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock is just about absorbed, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium‐high and continue stirring.

Don’t plan on doing anything else while this risotto is going — you gotta keep stirring it. It’s going to take a while to get to that perfect texture. Plan on an a half-hour, but check it occasionally after 20 minutes. You want it to be tender but still with some resistance upon chewing; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the butter and lemon zest and at least ½ cup of cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve immediately. Throw some more grated cheese on it, if you like.

We used peppercorn Pecorino Romano, so we didn’t need any additional salt, pepper or other seasoning. You will need some of those flavor boosters if you choose a less burly cheese.

We found this recipe went exceedingly well with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.