Growing up in Upstate New York has given me the most mesmerizing golden, crisp autumns each year. While most people here hate when falls slips into view because it means snow will be falling in a few short months, I live for it. There is nothing better to me than going with my boyfriend on a Monday to a local farm and picking the brightest green granny smith apples my eyes have ever seen or getting together with some friends on the weekend and carving pumpkins, not well I might add. There is something to be said about how certain times of the year bring people together. Families gather around a rustic wooden table for a hot, homemade dinner on a Sunday. This risotto recipe is the perfect dish to serve and awe.
I'm sure some of you are a bit intimidated by risotto, especially pumpkin risotto. One day, a high horse chef created this folklore that risotto must be stirred constantly and takes over an hour to make. Those are lies, my friends. Risotto is actually pretty simple to make. This recipe should only take you about a half an hour to finish and with the accoutrements, you can bet your ass anyone of your dinner guests will be impressed. Although, you may not have any idea what chevre or pancetta are. Chevre cheese is a extraordinary goat's cheese that is stunningly creamy and similar to cream cheese, except more savory. Pancetta is pretty much just Italian bacon. It usually is smoked and is thicker cut. Both of these garnishes help balance the overall product. The main ingredient, pumpkin, may be surprising, but makes sense when you think about how pumpkin is just a squash. With that being said, pureed butternut squash would be a great substitute if you are a bit scared of the pumpkin.
Pumpkin Risotto with Chevre, Pancetta, and Parsley
Yields: 4 dinner portions
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small shallot, fine diced
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 2 teaspoons of black pepper
- 16 ounces of Arborio rice
- 1 cup of organic pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup of quality white wine
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1/8 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 2 tablespoons of quality maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger)
- 4 ounces of pancetta, small diced
- 2 ounces of chevre cheese
- 1/2 ounce of italian flat leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a medium size sauce pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper to the pot. By adding the salt now, the garlic and shallot break down easier to really establish the aromatic flavors we want.
- After allowing to sweat for 4 minutes, pour the rice into the pan. Stirring around for a couple of minutes will enable the rice to toast and deepen the complexity of the final product. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and reduce for another 2 minutes.
- Stir in half of the chicken stock. You can also contribute the cayenne, lemon juice, maple syrup, puree, and pumpkin pie spice to the sauce pot. Continue to stir every 5 to 10 minutes.
- In a small saute pan over medium heat, start rendering your pancetta. Stir every 2 minutes to keep from burning. In total, it should take 6 to 7 minutes to achieve optimal crunch and browning.
- Once your risotto has completely soaked up the liquid, add 1 more cup of liquid. Again, allow to soak in while occasionally stirring and add the last of the stock.
- Your risotto should have a small bite to it, but be creamy in texture. Adjust the salt and pepper accordingly.
- To garnish, top with the crispy, salty pancetta, chevre cheese in small clumps, and sprinkle the parsley. Enjoy this warm and cozy autumnal treat!