Pumpkin is not something I'm usually in to, but it's such a typical veg for this season that I figured I should give it a go - and what better way to do so than in a risotto! I like to think that I could live on risotto. I imagine I'd just rotate through a repertoire of flavour combinations. With that in mind, you can expect to see many more risotto recipes as we delve further into the cold months ahead. But the question always remains; to stir, or not to stir?
I know an Italian lady who does not stir, instead leaving the rice in a saucepan with stock to boil away and cook on its own, much like a paella I suppose. Each to their own, but every recipe I have read (and many of them being traditional Italian recipes,) instruct us to stir between each addition of hot stock because it encourages the rice to release just enough starch to create the perfect creaminess. It shouldn't be a 'beating' stir, but a gentle one that keeps the rice busy. It is, also, quite essential to use hot stock. Every addition of cold stock means you'd be cooling the pan, and therefore each grain of rice, which can result in a claggy risotto. As the rice cooks more and puffs, you'll find that you don't need to stir as much. The process will take around half an hour all up, but I say risotto is the best one-pot-wonder going.
Pumpkin and feta risotto
What you'll need:
1 mini pumpkin (about 300g)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
3-4 cups chicken stock
Knob of butter
100g parmesan cheese, grated finely
150g feta, crumbled, to serve
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus thyme sprigs to serve
Salt and pepper
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Cut the skin off the pumpkin, remove flesh and seeds, and chop into cubes. Place on a baking tray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the pumpkin until soft and cooked through. Transfer pumpkin pieces into a food processor and whiz until pureed. (Alternatively, you can mash the pumpkin.) Set aside.
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
Fry the onion and garlic in a medium sized, heavy-based frypan over medium heat. Add the rice and fry for 2 minutes or until each grain is glossy. Reduce heat slightly and add the white wine, stirring until absorbed. Add heated stock, a ladle-full at a time, and stir between each addition. Add another ladle of stock when the last addition has been absorbed. Continue to add stock, and stir to cook until the rice is al dente. (It should no longer be white in the centre, and bouncy instead of crunchy when tested.) When rice is cooked, stir in the butter, parmesan and thyme leaves. Top with feta, extra thyme leaves (if desired) and good grinding of pepper. Enjoy hot!