Risotto is one of those Italian comfort food dishes that suddenly begin making a regular appearance right around now. It warms you up from your soul. This version is full Fall vibes wrapped in a creamy, rich package.
Risotto is not so hard to do or all that time-consuming. I think the level of difficulty and time gets blown out of proportion. I mean, come on, it’s ready in 20 minutes. You can totally make it on a weeknight. Yes, you have to stir more than usual, but not constantly, and really, I find the stirring a bit of a zen activity. The process is kind of calming and I like the focus I need to give it in order to have the dish turn out just right.
A few key tips when making risotto:
- Use Arborio rice or at the very least another kind of short-grain rice. Short grain rice produces more starch and that’s what gives risotto its amazing texture.
- Don’t use water, use stock or broth to cook the rice. I prefer to use chicken broth for risotto. In this particular instance, I didn’t have any homemade so I used Aneto Chicken Broth from my November Degustabox. Vegetable stock works as well. Using stock gives the rice a depth of flavor you just won’t get from water.
- Along those lines, use warm stock not cold. Keep the stock at a simmer in a small pan and add to the rice from there. This way everything stays hot and cooks evenly.
- Stir often but not too often. You want to develop the starches but not make it gluey.
- Add the stock little by little. This allows the rice to bump up against each other, creating that creamy texture.
- Don’t cook the rice until it’s mushy. Just like pasta, the rice should be al dente, with a little bite to it.
- Stir in the cheese at the end. Fat breaks down under heat and will get oily. You want it just melted, enough to coat the rice grains.
Once you have the method down pat, it’s a blank canvas from there. Normally I serve traditional risotto with a Bolognese sauce spooned on top. In this Fall version, the pumpkin is whisked into the broth so it permeates the entire dish. Once it’s cooked all you’ll need to do is garnish and serve.
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons minced white onion
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepan whisk together the chicken stock and pumpkin puree over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover to keep warm.
- In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Add the sage and rice and cook for another minute.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and a ladle of the warm stock.
- Cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is evaporated. Add another ladle of stock, and continue cooking until evaporated again. Continue this process, one ladle at a time, allowing the stock to evaporate in between each ladle. Cook until the rice is al dente and creamy in texture, approximately 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheeses along with the nutmeg and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Top with the roasted, chopped hazelnuts. Serve immediately.