Sunday, July 4, 2010

Hello Bloggers. It is finally school holidays and so I find myself with a little spare time on my hands to finally get blogging again. It is a cool, grey day in the usual sunny Karratha, I think it is the closest we are going to get to winter up here so while the weather is cool I am trying to enjoy some of the wonderful winter veggies I love. The humble pumpkin is on the top of my list and there are so may great ways to prepare it. My husband loves risotto so what better pairing. I just love roasted pumpkin as it really brings out the sweetness of the pumpkin and I particularly like using butter instead of olive oil here as it caramelises so much better. Now normally I would have roasted my pumpkin with some lovely fresh sage but I didn't feel like going all the way to the shops just for that - I used what I had in the refrigerator but feel free to use a handful if you have.

It's slightly time-consuming to make risotto but pretty easy if you follow a few simple rules, but worth the trouble, it is a very comforting meal. To make enough for 4 you will need: 1/2 a large pumpkin or 1 small pumpkin peeled, seeded and cubed. Place the cubed pumpkin in a medium sized roasting tin and dot with about 3 - 4 knobs of butter and sprinkle with Maldon salt and cracked white pepper - add some fresh sage leaves at this point if you have. Roast at 200C for about 20 - 30 mins or until golden and soft - toss a few times during cooking.

To make the risotto:

Roasted pumpkin ( mash half and keep half cubed)
30ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups Arborio Rice - it is really important to use this variety of rice as it is more starchy than normal white grain rice and plumps up gorgeously to make a creamy, unctuous final dish.

1 Onion, finely diced - the brown ones or shallot

1 Clove Garlic, crushed

200ml dry white wine
6 cups Chic
ken Stock - have this boiling in a separate saucepan on the stove before you begin. You may need a little extra or slightly less
1 T Butter

1/2 cup Parmigiano


Crisp Fried Sage Leaves - kept from roasting

Add the olive oil to a medium sized but heavy based pot and heat.
Add the onion/shallot and fry gently until soft and translucent - this is one of those rules you really need to observe because if the onion is crunchy it will ruin the dish. Test
by tasting a small piece from time to time. Onion will take 8 - 10 minutes to soften and shallots a little less.
Once the onion is soft add the garlic and sauté a minute or so until fragrant.
Now add the rice to the pot and stir really well to coat all the grains with oil.
Turn up the heat and add the white wine and stir continuously - this is where it gets a little time consuming - you must keep stirring!!

Once the wine has almost all absorbed add the mashed pumpkin and stir well.
Turn the heat to low and then begin adding the boiling chicken stock 1 ladle-full at a time, stirring all the time until each ladle-full is absorbed before adding the next. The rice should be creamy and soft but not mushy, the only way to test it is to taste it.
When done the dish should not have too much liquid but should still be moist. Once all the liquid is in and you think it is ready (this process should have taken about 15 - 20 minutes) turn off the heat, remembering it keeps cooking after the heat is turned off.
Add the butter and Parmigiano and stir well.
Season well with salt and cracked white pepper
Heat the remaining cubed pumpkin in the microwave while you dish up the risotto.

Top with the diced pumpkin, a generous sprinkling of grated Parmigiano and a few crisp sage leaves. Enjoy with a nice crisp, lively Sauvignon Blanc.