Creamy and Delicious Pumpkin Risotto

October 28, 2014

Pumpkin risotto is fall comfort food at its finest.  The flavors are rich, the colors are bright, and every bite feels like home.  Risotto is not a time consuming meal but it demands a lot of attention from the cook.  Once the rice is added the pot, you will have to perch yourself over the stove to continuously stir the mixture.  This process helps to release the natural starches in the rice which gives this dish its irresistible creaminess.  You can easily convert this meal into a vegetarian one by leaving out the pancetta and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.  Either version would be delicious.

Pumpkin Risotto
Serves 4

3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped pancetta  
1 shallot, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grounc black pepper
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1/4 toasted pine nuts for garnish
parmesan cheese for garnish 

Heat a medium saucepan over medium high heat and bring chicken stock and water. Once warm, reduce heat to low and keep mixture warm.  Monitor your heat settings so that the liquid does not evaporate. Set aside 1/4 cup of warm stock mixture.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and cook the pancetta until golden brown and crisp, stirring frequently. Add the finely chopped shallots and garlic and continue to cook 5 minutes or until tender and translucent. Stir in rice and sage with the pancetta mixture and cook for an additional minute, stirring frequently. Add white wine and cook until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Stir in 1 1/4 cups stock mixture with the kosher salt and cook the rice for 4 to 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining stock mixture in 3/4 cup installments , stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding more. Repeat this step until all the stock is gone less the 1/4 cup.

Meanwhile, add the pine nuts to a dry saute pan and toast them until fragrant.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Pay close attention to the nuts because they burn easily. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in pumpkin, mascarpone cheese, and freshly ground pepper. Stir in reserved stock mixture as needed.  The risotto should be lose but thick and creamy. Spoon the risotto into each of 4 bowls and garnish with a tablespoon each of toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

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