bits and pieces

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumkin Risotto with Walnut Crumble

Readers of this blog will know my penchant for risotto.

It's a one pot meal. It looks fancy. It sticks to your ribs. It tastes nice. AND you can do wonderful things with the left overs such as: Eat them the next day! Roll them in bread crumbs and deep fry them! Bake them into little patties of risotto burgers and top them with scallops and lobster! And on, and on. Well actually, that's all I do with left over risotto, but if you have any thoughts - send 'em my way!

My grad school roommate was a risotto goddess. I actually don't think I'd had homemade risotto before we lived together and she'd whip up batches of fantabulous risotto on the regular. Once we were all sick with colds and she made a risotto with something like 30 cloves of garlic (roasted and otherwise) which was just unbelievable. I can't remember if our colds went away, but I remember the meal.

Fall is almost out of here after a brief but heroic appearance. I saw snowflakes last week but I don't want to talk about it. Autumn is full of squash and corn and harvest-y goodness. And yep - pumpkin. I made pumpkin tarts this year for Thanksgiving but I was left with extra pumpkin puree - and confession - I don't like pumpkin pie.

I know. They should just kick me out of Canada.

So what was I to do with all this left over pumpkin? The first - of many answers - was risotto. It's a food my body craves when the temperatures get cold. I've even impromptu made it on a camp fire when Waskesiu weather got cooler than expected.

Like most meals I love, it's easy, it tastes good, and it seems fancier than it actually is.

1 cup of arborio rice

1 small onion, diced/minced/finely cut
1 stalk of celery also diced/minced/finely cut
1 carrot, yep, you guessed it - diced/minced/finely cut
2-3 tbsp of olive oil/butter

1 generous cup of pumpkin puree
2 dashes of cayenne
a pinch of cumin
3 cups of vegetable/chicken stock
a bottle of white wine (optional) for merrily splashing into your risotto/drinking from
1 bay leaf
some rosemary and thyme (fresh is always preferable but dried is always acceptable)

1 tbsp butter
a general amount of parmesan, asiago, or sharp cheddar

salt and pepper

walnut crumble:
1/2 cup of walnuts, diced
1 small handful of fresh sage leaves (optional)
1/8 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water

other things you will need: 
a pot to cook your risotto in - remember it will double in size
a stirrin' spoon
a knife and cutting board
a frying pan for your walnut crumble

  1. In your sauce pan, heat your olive oil/butter over medium heat. Add your onion, celery, carrots and garlic and cook for a few minutes until softened. 
  2. Add your rice and any herbs and spices you've elected to use and stir to combine with the oil/butter and veg mixture. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. 
  3. If you're cooking with wine - add a big splash (about an eight of a cup) now! If not - add a big splash of stock! Stir to coat risotto mixture. 
  4. Continue to stir occasionally and add stock as necessary for the next 5 minutes. Add the stock as the liquid is absorbed into the rice. You don't want the rice swimming in stock. 
  5. After these 5 minutes are up, add your pumpkin and your bay leaf. Stir to combine. 
  6. Add stock and continue the process of stirring and adding stock as necessary for another 15-20 minutes. Feel free to make your walnut crumble at this point. 
  7. Test the rice at 15 - it should be soft but still have a little bit of bite to it and the stock should be absorbed. If not - let it cook for another 5 minutes or so. 
  8. Once you get the desired soft-bite of the risotto, add a handful of cheese and a dollop of butter (optional), stir and pop a lid on it to keep it warm. Allow it to settle for a few minutes. If you haven't  made your walnut crumble (slacker!), this is also a good point to make it. 
  9. To make the walnut crumble: heat the sugar and water in your frying pan over medium heat until the sugar and water have turned syrupy. Stir in your walnuts to coat as best you can. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with kosher salt. 
  10. Once you're ready - pop your risotto onto some plates/bowls and top with the walnut crumble. Eat and dream of snowflakes. 

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