Recipe Servings: 8
The basic method of making risotto will never change: you cool the rice slowly and add broth gradually, so the starchy inside of the rice kernel expands as the outside layer dissolves into creaminess. Risotto feeds the soul and can take a whole range of flavors. I like the pumpkin risotto here, but try a shrimp risotto using shellfish broth, adding a pound of peeled shrimp at the last minute and letting them cool no more than five minutes. Or try a green risotto, with a bunch of watercress or a few handfuls of spinach, chopped fine, or a mushroom risotto with a pound of sliced fresh mushrooms added to the dried porcini mushrooms.
Keep in mind that there's a lot of bad risotto out there, usually because folks overcook it or add too much wine. But if you do have some white wine open, add a splash or two to the rice and onions, just before you ladle the broth. It gives another dimension to the flavor.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and diced
2 cups arborio rice
6 cups chicken broth, heated
Leaves 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
A few dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat and sweat the onions until soft. Add the pumpkin and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the rice, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure each kernel is coated with oil.
Add 3 cups of the hot chicken broth, the rosemary, and porcini mushrooms to the rice. Bring slowly to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. As the broth is absorbed, add more broth and stir often.
Cook the rice until it is slightly al dente and most of the broth has been absorbed. The rice should be creamy and porridge-like. This should take about 18 minutes. Finish the risotto by stirring in the butter and Parmesan cheese. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper before serving.