Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Grate Risotto!

Risotto in Padella alla Zucca "Hokkaido", Pancetta, Zenzero, Pomodori Secche, Salvia & Timo
Frying Pan Risotto with Hokkaido Pumpkin, Bacon, Ginger, Sun-Dried Tomato, Sage & Thyme


I prepared a little something special with my first first little pumpkin of the season this evening- a yummy, easy, one-pan meal that was packed with flavor and so easy to make!

I like to make my risotti this way, with the flavor of the broth developing from the ingredients as they boil and cook into the rice, rather than adding a finished stock as one usually would. Both versions are great- this is just a good alternative when you don't have a ready broth at hand... read on!


Also, because the pumpkin cooks down to a smooth paste, it already adds a smooth consistency to the risotto, without you having to rely on butter to do that for you. In fact, I made this dish using only the fat from the little handful of bacon and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.


As you can see, when you compare the size of my little Hokkaido pumpkin to the other ingredients, you will notice it was no larger than a grapefruit... but that's more than enough for a really generous single serving! Otherwise, the ingredients per person would be, 2 cups of grated pumpkin, 1 cup of Arborio rice, 1 shallot, 3-4 sun-dried tomatoes, a little ginger, a handful of finely chopped bacon, 1/4 stalk of celery, a little Parmesan and some fresh sage and thyme.


This is a little bit of a change to the regular risotti or pumpkin dishes, filled with great seasonal flavors from the ginger, sage, thyme and nutmeg and the savory sun-dried tomatoes... it is mildly spicy and oh so delicious!


After saving a couple of thin slices of pumpkin for a garnish, I grated the rest finely, happy to not have to peel it- one of my favorite details about the Hokkaido variety- so convenient! I finely chopped the shallot, celery and ginger, cut the sun-dried tomatoes into thin strips, boiled myself a kettle of water to be ready to begin and popped my frying pan onto the stove top, ready for action!


I put the bacon into the frying pan first and as soon as it began to sizzle, added all of the other ingredients at the same time and let them begin to sweat together in the bacon fat. I added the aromatics- 3-4 sprigs of thyme and 4-5 small sage leaves, right from the beginning, so that they would flavor the broth as it developed.


After stirring for 3-4 minutes, the pumpkin began to soften up and give of its juices and at that point, I seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg and deglazed the pan with a splash of white wine. This was merely an option- you can also simply begin to add boiling water if you want to prepare the dish without alcohol.


I then went on adding boiling water and stirring it in as I went along, in the usual way that risotto is made- although being as there was so much pumpkin in this mix, it wasn't necessary to stir quite as much as with a regular risotto... which made it a little more easy to prepare.


After around 30 minutes, the risotto was smooth and tender and it was time to add a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan and a little olive oil, before giving it a final stir, letting it rest for 1-2 minutes... and then serving it up nice and hot and delicious!


With a couple of thin slices of pumpkin, fried golden brown and delicious and a sprig of thyme as a garnish, all it needed was a last sprinkle of cheese and a grind of pepper... and I was finally ready to eat!

Every bit as tasty and good as it looks- and you can take my word for it!


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