Last week Sharon and I chose the Pasta, Rice, and Stuffing chapter from the The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Sharon made Vodka Pasta and I made this risotto recipe. I used butternut squash instead of pumpkin and it was REALLY good. The recipe calls for a dollop of mascarpone to garnish the risotto and calls it optional. Use it! It added an extra creaminess to the risotto that put it over the top.
The recipe also has you save the pumpkin seed and roast them with the bacon on top of the pumpkin. We did not like them at all and picked them out of the risotto. I would recommend leaving that step out.
Coriander seeds are crushed using a mortar and pestle.
The squash is coated with olive oil and sprinkled with crushed coriander seeds and salt and pepper. The squash is baked until soft.
The cooked squash is covered with bacon, pumpkin seeds, chestnuts, fresh sage leaves, and olive oil and cooked until the bacon is crisp. I pre-cooked the bacon so it would be extra crispy.
While the squash is cooking you make the risotto. When the risotto is cooked the squash is added. Each bowl is topped with crumbled bacon, chestnuts, sage, and pumpkin seeds.
This risotto takes some time to make but the results are excellent. Another winner from The Essential New York Times Cook Book.
PUMPKIN, SAGE, CHESTNUT, AND BACON RISOTTO
1 small sweet cooking pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, about 2 1/2 pounds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Sea salt and ground black pepper
12 slices bacon or pancetta
2 ounces shelled chestnuts (vacuum packed are fine)
15 fresh sage leaves
4 cups chicken stock or canned broth
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 small stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
4 tablespoons butter
3/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
About 1 cup mascarpone, optional.
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve pumpkin lengthwise, and remove seeds; rinse seeds, drain, and reserve. Cut pumpkin lengthwise into thick slices, and spread in a layer across a large baking sheet. (If using squash, cut into quarters.) Sprinkle pumpkin with olive oil, and set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the coriander seeds until crushed. Sprinkle over pumpkin along with salt and pepper, and bake until soft, about 40 minutes.
2. Remove pumpkin from oven (leave oven on), and spread bacon over it. In a small bowl, combine reserved seeds, chestnuts, sage and salt and pepper to taste. Add tablespoon olive oil, and mix well. Sprinkle over pumpkin and bacon. Place back in oven until bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Remove pumpkin from oven. Scrape bacon, chestnuts, sage and pumpkin seeds onto a small plate; reserve. Finely chop about half the pumpkin. Chop other half so that it is slightly chunky; reserve.
4. Place chicken stock in a small pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low to keep warm. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and add tablespoon olive oil, shallots, celery and a pinch of salt. Stir, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and add rice. Stir constantly until rice is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in wine until it is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Begin adding broth to rice, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before adding next; process will take about 20 minutes. When ready, rice will be soft with a slight bite. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Remove rice from heat. Add chopped pumpkin, and stir vigorously until mixed; fold in pumpkin chunks. Mix in butter and Parmesan. Place a lid over the saucepan, and let sit for 2 minutes. To serve, place a portion on each of 6 serving plates. Top each portion with crumbled bacon, and sprinkle with mixture of chestnuts, sage and pumpkin seeds. Add a dash more cheese. Garnish each plate with a dollop of mascarpone if desired, and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings.
Recipe from The Essential New York Times Cook Book