Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto

I guess it’s inevitable for pumpkins to show up everywhere at this time of year.  Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin puree, pumpkin scones, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, etc.  I’d like to say, “I’ve had enough already!” and ignore this crazy hype, but, to be honest, I love pumpkin too much to completely ignore it.  Pumpkin spiced lattes at Starbucks are my guilty pleasure at this time of year, and every morning I mix in a tablespoon or so of pumpkin pie spice into the coffee grinds for a warm fall wake-up cup of coffee.  And, I’ll admit that, while looking at all of the bookmarks on my Google Reader in, say, July, the pumpkin recipes pop out and scream at me, but I feel like it’s my job to resist until fall.  That’s what everyone else does, right?

Right.  So, when deciding what to make recently after craving pumpkin like crazy, I decided what I wanted to make was Pumpkin Risotto.

Risotto!  Scary!  I’d never made any kind of risotto before, but thought that this one, which didn’t seem too difficult, and that I was just making for the fun of it (not serving to others), would be the perfect kind to try. 

It was easy.  Really.  The most difficult part of making this was focusing on the pot of rice and not walking away for 10 minutes (which is surprisingly hard when your attention span, like mine, makes you remember this laundry list of things that need to get done while in the middle of making risotto, of all things). 

I’ve made the recipe below a few times, most recently for Thanksgiving.  We had a small group so it wasn’t too much of a pain to make the risotto immediately before sitting down for dinner, but I probably wouldn’t make this if I was hosting a big dinner because I imagine it would be hard to mingle with guests while attempting to cook this.  But, maybe some of you are far more capable at dealing with your stress than I am!

Another thing.  The first time I made this, I was overly careful about making sure all the liquid was absorbed by the rice before adding more.  Other times, though, I added the stock a bit more briskly but in the end, the rice wasn’t as plump and soft as I would’ve liked.  I worried at first about this, but then I decided to calm the heck down and let the rice sit a bit and simmer.  It helped a lot.

This risotto has such a deep, rich flavor, and the bite of the cremini mushrooms adds a good texture contrast and helps off-set the creaminess of the rice.  I think it’s pretty interesting to consider that the dish has no butter or cream and can be made vegan by omitting the cheese (which is perfectly fine, I have made it both ways and it has always been wonderful), and still possesses a unique, rich creaminess.  And the red orange color makes this a true fall comfort dish.

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