Pumpkin Risotto with Browned Butter and Sage: waste not, want not
Right about now most of the jack-o-lanterns round here are looking like they need dentures. The others have been nibbled at by various nocturnal creatures. It's not pretty.
But I was able to put the little pumpkin that's been decorating my kitchen counter to good use. I made him into a delicious risotto. But first I roasted the seeds with olive oil and more of my special spice mix. I told you that stuff would come in handy. I roasted them at 350 for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring every 5 minutes. They came out extra crunchy and flavorful. I'll snack on them while I stir the risotto, and if there are any left, I'll use them as a garnish.
I adore pumpkin. But like other winter squashes, it's a labor of love to peel and chop them. So many savory pumpkin dishes use pureed pumpkin; it's a lot easier to pop a pumpkin in the oven and then scoop out the cooked flesh an hour later, or, easier still, open up a can. But I'm craving chunks of bright orange buttery pumpkin. If you have a cleaver in the house, this is the time to put it to use. Otherwise grab your sharpest knife and throw back a shot of something strong to calm your nerves.
Isn't sage the most beautiful herb?
Pumpkin Risotto with Browned Butter and Sage
(preheat the oven to 400 for roasting the pumpkin)
3 heaping cups raw peeled pumpkin, cut into cubes (you want to end up with 1 1/2 cups cooked) olive oil 1 leek, trimmed, washed and sliced 2 shallots, thinly sliced 8 Tbsp unsalted butter 10 large fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped 1 cup arborio rice 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 26 oz box of chicken stock plus 2 cups water (this should leave you with a little to spare) salt fresh pepper 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish
Once you have your pumpkin cubes, you're home free. Put them on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Not too much, just so they don't stick while you roast them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast until they are just tender, NOT MUSHY. This will take about 15 or so minutes depending on your oven and the size of your chunks (mine were about 1/2 inch)...check and stir every 5 minutes. Err on the firm side. Set aside.
In a pan drizzle a little olive oil and saute the shallots and leeks over low to medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the stock and water in a pan on the stove or in the microwave. You want your stock hot as it hits the risotto or it will slow down the cooking process and result in mushy rice. Keep warm.
In your risotto pan, melt the stick of butter and continue to heat, on low to medium, until the butter starts to brown. You'll see little specks of brown appear as the milk solids separate out and toast. This might take around 5 minutes, depending on your level of heat and your pan. When you've got a nice brown color, throw in the chopped sage. This is fun, it will foam and sizzle. I took mine off the heat at this point since the butter was quite brown. Let the sage crisp up for about a minute, Back on low to medium heat, add the rice and stir to thoroughly coat the rice and let it absorb the flavors for a minute, stirring constantly.
Hit the pan with the wine and stir while the rice absorbs it. This is also fun, the aromas will delight you and inspire you though the constant stirring ahead.
Once the wine is absorbed, add the leeks and shallots to the pan, and put in your first large ladle-full of stock. Over medium heat, stir until the liquid is absorbed, and then add the next shot of stock. Think of risotto as your 6 months old who's just learned to crawl. Don't take your eyes off it.
You'll keep adding ladles of stock after the last one has absorbed, until the rice plumps up and the absorption slows. This will take approximately 30 minutes. You will be able to tell as you get low on stock and the rice doesn't want to absorb anymore. Taste the rice now and then to check its progress.
Add the pumpkin in toward the end, maybe for the last 2 ladles of stock.
Lastly, add the cheese and check the seasoning. Serve in large bowls with a sprinkling of roasted pumpkin seeds.
The richness of the browned butter and sage gives this risotto a wonderful flavor.
Sue/the view from great island