I am on a six week break from Culinary School and have been scratching my head thinking about what I could share with you this week. As Winter has arrived I am making lots of slow cooked meats, lamb shanks & beef cheeks, roasted pork, chilli, pasta, soups & risotto’s. This got me to thinking about a pumpkin risotto dish I created a few years ago.
I grew up eating a lot of pumpkin …. all varieties; Queensland Blue, Jap, Butternut and Kent. Whether it was roasted, mashed, mashed with potato, mashed with sweet potato, made into soup or used in a salad, pumpkin has always been a welcome vegetable on my plate. Such was my ‘obsession’ that in the 80’s when working with quite a few Americans, and discovering that pumpkin was somewhat of a neglected vegetable in the States (at the time), it became a personal quest to introduce my American colleagues to this versatile, sweet & humble vegetable. My daughter now lives in LA and informs me that the good old pumpkin is widely available in cafe’s in various dishes.
A few years ago whilst at a foodie event, being a pumpkin fan (as outlined above), I was delighted to be offered to share in an amazing plate of pumpkin risotto by the young man who was sitting next to me. He was vegetarian and the risotto was to make up for the meat dish the rest of the table was served. It was so delicious that I took out a pad at the table and tried to nut out the ingredients. I can’t say for sure that I ‘nailed’ it, but I am pleased with my version and it’s been well received by family and friends ever since. This is probably one of those dishes which I will continue to adapt and refine as time goes on, and perhaps you will too. I usually use Queensland Blue pumpkin but I think any variety would work just as well.
I have made a few versions of the dish, sometimes adding pan fried prosciutto & sometimes not. This is a dish that can be played around with to suit your taste, I was thinking of adding a few toasted crushed walnuts with the parmesan scattered over the top next time.
Roast Pumpkin Risotto – Serves 4
1. Pumpkin 500g peeled and cut, Red onion 1 skinned and quartered, Olive oil 2 tablespoons, Sea salt to season.
2. Chicken or vegetable stock 750mls, Olive oil 2 tablespoons, unsalted butter 25g, garlic 1 close crushed, French eschalots 2 diced or small brown onion 1 diced, Risotto rice (aborio or carnaroli) 250g, white wine 80mls, Parmesan cheese 50g grated, mascarpone cheese 50g, chopped tarragon or sage 2 teaspoons, if using sage cook several leaves in oil for garnish, white pepper and salt to taste, shaved Parmesan.
3. Optional: pan fried prosciutto and sage leaves
- Roast the ingredients in 1 in a hot oven (200c) until brown and soft – around 40 to 45 mins.
- Retain 80g pumpkin to use as garnish to finished dish
- Bring chicken stock to boil and use 50ml to blend the pumpkin and onion mixture – set aside.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy based pan & sweat the onion and garlic until soft but not coloured.
- Add rice and stir until well coated.
- Add wine and allow to be absorbed
- Start adding heated chicken stock one ladle at a time until absorbed. Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on base.
- Test rice if still not quite done, add small amount of boiling water and allow to be absorbed.
- When rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in parmesan, mascarpone, pureed pumpkin and onion mixture, the chopped tarragon or sage and a good grind of white pepper.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
- Serve on a large serving plate and garnish with reserved roasted pumpkin, parmesan shavings and crispy fried sage and prosciutto (if using).