Winter time for me is all about pumpkins in their many varied forms. I am an artist in my day to day life. Artsy folks of many varieties all love colour, form and texture. For me personally, I find great enjoyment in checking the pumpkins as they slowly grow and come to maturity over our summer into autumn. I have a particular enjoyment of rubbing my hands over the warty bush pumpkins to appreciate all those lovely randomly placed warty lumps and bumps. My late father Luciano always used to say that “back home” in Trieste, the people there would grow and feed pumpkins to their pigs as pumpkins were regarded as pig fodder. Pigs were fattened up and knocked off in winter to create a great variety of salamis and preserved cuts to sustain the family over the coming year. I always said to dad that the people there were missing out on a tasty vegetable. My mum Amalia agreed as she also enjoyed roasted Butternut pumpkin.
I made a batch of brodo the other day so a nice orange coloured risotto was on the cooking plan for me. I have to tell you here and now though that I compiled this risotto with colour form and texture in mind. Vegetables are so colourful and risotto is very textural. You will need a batch of brodo; around 10 – 12 cups for this recipe. The brodo must be simmering in a pan next to the pan in which you intend to collate the risotto.
First of all though, I started off by roasting up some Waltham Butternut pumpkin and onion wedges. I used half a pumpkin and two onions. Toss the vegetables in a little extra virgin olive oil to coat the surface. The oil assists with crisping up the vegetables to develop flavour. Ovens vary a lot. Our old banger of an oven takes time to bake and roast so I had to cook the tray of pumpkin pieces for around 50 minutes. You will know your own oven. I cooked the pumpkin and onion pieces on 200 degrees Celsius. I sprinkled on some white balsamic glaze during the last 20 minutes of cooking.
Once the pumpkin and onion was roasted up, I started on the risotto pan by sweating down one big sliced up leek in some extra virgin olive oil and around 50 grams of unsalted butter. Once the leek was softened, I turned up the heat and added a couple of chorizo sausages, thinly sliced. The increased heat was needed to give the chorizo a bit of a coating.
I added two cups of Arborio rice to the pan and tossed this around on high heat to allow those grains to toast up a bit. Toss the rice around until the grains become translucent. The different stages of sauteing are important in this recipe as each saute session with different ingredients adds to the finished taste. Have the pan of simmering brodo ready on the hob. Add one ladle full of brodo to the rice. The brodo will almost instantly be absorbed into the thirsty rice and cause a great steam cloud to rise. Add another ladle full of brodo when the steam cloud subsides and continue stirring the rice around.
Turn the heat down to a moderate to low level as you don’t want to burn anything in this recipe. The sauteing is a fine balance between creating flavour and not burning.
The rice quickly absorbs the brodo. I decided to add one cup of frozen peas to the pan. Keep adding ladles of brodo to the pan each time the rice starts to dry out a little. Around 15 minutes into cooking the risotto, add the roasted onion and pumpkin. I also added a cup full of cubed ham as I had some spare in the fridge. You don’t have to add any ham; this is optional. Continue gently stirring the risotto in the pan and keep on adding that simmering brodo.
I cooked this risotto for approximately 20 minutes, slowly stirring all the time. Now, if the rice has soaked up all the brodo, you may have to have a cup full on hand ready to add to the pan. You can easily heat up a cup of brodo in the microwave. Taste the rice after 20 minutes of stirring. The rice grain should have no gritty bits. If the rice grain is nice and soft, then the risotto is cooked.
Stir in half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and place the lid on the pan and turn off the heat. Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. The resting time is an important time to finish cooking the risotto and to absorb any excess brodo.
I tend to prefer a “wet” risotto. You can see excess brodo in the bowl here. Rest assured that the left over risotto will absorb excess brodo overnight. Leftover risotto that will be heated up again the next day will need around one cup of brodo added to wet the grains so they separate again. Don’t forget you can make Suppli with leftover risotto. I explained the process in this blog here.
Well, as an artist, this risotto conformed to my passion for colour, form and texture. I might also add that this delicious meal also conformed to thumping good flavour at a time of the year when a hot meal goes down like a cold beer on a hot day. Enjoy this mixed metaphor 🙂 Apart from his beloved Priscilla and life long, all time, top of the class favourite toy, “Blue Ted”, I’d say Teddy enjoys risotto too and will wait for his share; gently pressing my knee to remind me that he is ever so patient and I am not to forget to share the meal. The boy has cosmopolitan tastes.