Monday, 20 October 2014

Pumpkin risotto

Ok. So if I absolutely had to come up with something good to say about autumn it is the fact that I finally get  to bring out the sturdier recipes, designed to keep one warm in the chilly weather. Such as risottos

Then there is the September issue of InStyle full of all those irresistible must haves for the new season. And the passion for thick cable knits and tartan that gets re-ignited at this time of the year, every year (yes, this year, too). As a result of the last two a new cape made its way into my wardrobe. Sure, a cape is just about the most practical piece of clothing one could possibly own in a country like Finland: twice a year there's a 2-hour window during which it's not yet too wintry but still manages to keep its wearer even somehow warm. See, fashion blogging is so not for me, so I'd better concentrate on food. And food blogging. And that risotto. 


Just look at those colours: so reminiscent of the flag of my favourite country... (no, not Macedonia)


Since pumpkin fever is far from over, I just had to have some risotto. And I think it just might have become my new pumpkin favourite. Yes, possibly even more comforting than pumpkin gnocchi. The gentle sweetness of the pumpkin can carry strong accompaniments like morcilla, too, so I served mine with Serrano ham, roasted on parchment-lined tray at 200º until crisp and then broken to shards. If you want to pay tribute to the Italian roots of risotto then certo you can use prosciutto. I just happen to like the depth Jamón Serrano has. Yes, bacon works too. And if you really want to impress your fellow diners, you can make the sort of spirals I served my salmorejo with

Serves 2 generously, 3 with some moderation and 4 as a starter

500 g pumpkin (for instance half of one 1,4 kg Hokkaido)
a couple of tbsp oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2-1 tsp chilli flakes (or fresh red chilli)
salt, black pepper

1 shallot
butter
1,5 dl good risotto rice
1 dl white wine
0,5 - 0,75 l chicken or vegetable stock (preferably low-sodium)
handful of sage leaves
100 ricotta
(parmesan if you wish, as much as you wish)

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel and cut into chunks. Heat the oil and add the spices. Cook for a moment to release the aromas and pour over the pumpkin. Season generously and roast at 200º until soft, 15-25- minutes depending on the size. While the pumpkin roasts, start preparing the risotto.

Once the pumpkin is done, purée half of it and cut the other half into smaller cubes. Roast the Serrano ham until crisp (about 10 minutes). Let cool on kitchen towel and break into chunks.

Finely chop the onion, sauté in some butter and then add rice, Let that too sweat a bit and get sort of translucent and then start adding the stock - a ladle full at a time. Keep the stock hot in another pan and don't add more until the previous batch has been absorbed. When the rice is almost cooked to creamy perfection (try not to stir too much at any point) stir in the finely chopped sage leaves, a little while later ricotta, pumpkin puree, pumpkin cubes and Parmesan (if using). Serve. Quickly. With crisp Serrano crisps or bacon. If you're on a pork-free diet, you can give the dish more texture with some dry roasted pumpkin seeds. 




Soave Classico would work with this dish though I decided to give Lindeman's Early Harvest Semillon Sauvignon Blanc a go. And you know what? Not bad. Not bad at all. Owing to early harvest the sugar content (and subsequently the alcohol and calorie content) remains lower. Yet, unlike the totally non-alcoholic Jacob's Creek Unvined Riesling that was tested on the blog earlier, this one does have more acidity and as such more body so it would work with light dishes though it is best drank on its own. Wine's acidity balanced the creaminess of the risotto and its herby notes worked well with sage. 




Oh, and get this: Henry John Lindeman, the founder of the eponymous winery was actually a doctor convinced of the health benefits of wine and firmly believed that "wine is meant to bring joy and happiness". 


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ANYONE FOR SECONDS?



      


   

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