Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All Hallows Risotto

Dear Mouse,

Happy (Belated) New Year!

Halloween 2011. Myself as an obscure character from Game of Thrones, and a bottle of The Kraken rum, which is the only thing to put in your mulled cider, and which coincidentally also makes an appearance in Game of Thrones (though I think they mean the actual kraken).

Anyone who knows me knows that in some circles, Hallowe'en is seen as a New Year's Eve of sorts, and that's the way we do it Chez Boo. The season changes, the sun recedes, the Dark Half of the year begins. Out with the old, in with the new. Winter is Coming. (Ok I'm done.)

For I think seven years now??? I've made the same dinner for you all: Chase's Vegetable Tian --for some unknown, completely unseasonal reason-- and, to make up for that, the sensational Pumpkin Raviolis from Russo's on the Lower East Side. Served up with melted butter, torn sage leaves, and toasted hazelnuts, they always seemed to be the perfect tribute to Fall.

"Halloweenies" (mini pigs-in-blankets) at Mr. and Mrs. Mighty Hunter's Party.
Pictured here for no reason at all except come on, that's hilarious.

This year, in the spirit of "in with the new", I went in a different direction. My lovely friend KG had just given me The New York Times Cookbook as a very belated birthday gift and it is full of gems. Mouse, I see your pumpkin bread (which I have now baked THREE times since your post) and I raise you:

Jamie Oliver's "Pumpkin, Sage, Chestnut, and Bacon Risotto". Yeah that's right.

This was my first risotto! and I'd like to report two things: One, it is NOT as difficult as you think it is at ALL. It's simple, just a bit labor-intensive. Two, that there is almost nothing more halloweeny than having to stand over a simmering cauldron, repeatedly pouring in cups of steaming broth and stirring, stirring, stirring. I tried to get in a good menacing cackle to go along with the whole scene but I was just too happy about making this.

A few tips: 1. You can use butternut squash in place of pumpkin. It's easier to find and tastes almost the same. 2. Dont bother with fresh chestnuts. 3. I cut the amount of butter in this recipe by half and it was still oh-so-rich and fabulous. I know it's unorthodox, but it happened. 4. I dont think you need the mascarpone, but it is nice. 5. Get your sister, if you have one, to share the labor of stirring. Your arms will thank you.

All photos in this post taken by Mr. Mighty Hunter, who didn't want me to include the one of the risotto but I did anyway.

Jamie Oliver's Pumpkin, Sage, Chestnut and Bacon Risotto

1 small sweet cooking pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, about 2 1/2 pounds
(Or just buy it cut up already.-The Boo)
Olive oil
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
Sea salt and ground black pepper
12 slices bacon or pancetta
2 ounces shelled chestnuts (vacuum packed are fine)
15 fresh sage leaves
4 cups chicken stock or canned broth
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
5 small stalks celery, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
About 1 cup mascarpone, optional.

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Halve pumpkin lengthwise, and remove seeds; rinse seeds, drain, and reserve. Cut pumpkin lengthwise into thick slices, and spread in a layer across a large baking sheet. (If using squash, cut into quarters.)Again, you could just buy in already cut up. Sprinkle pumpkin with olive oil, and set aside. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the coriander seeds until crushed. Sprinkle over pumpkin along with salt and pepper, and bake until soft, about 40 minutes.

2. Remove pumpkin from oven (leave oven on), and spread bacon over it. In a small bowl, combine reserved seeds, chestnuts, sage and salt and pepper to taste. Add tablespoon olive oil, and mix well. Sprinkle over pumpkin and bacon. Place back in oven until bacon is crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove pumpkin from oven. Scrape bacon, chestnuts, sage and pumpkin seeds onto a small plate; reserve. Finely chop about half the pumpkin. Chop other half so that it is slightly chunky; reserve.

4. Place chicken stock in a small pan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low to keep warm. Place a large saucepan over medium heat, and add tablespoon olive oil, shallots, celery and a pinch of salt. Stir, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, and add rice. Stir constantly until rice is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in wine until it is absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Begin adding broth to rice, a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly. Allow each ladleful to be absorbed before adding next; process will take about 20 minutes. When ready, rice will be soft with a slight bite. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Remove rice from heat. Add chopped pumpkin, and stir vigorously until mixed; fold in pumpkin chunks. Mix in butter and Parmesan. Place a lid over the saucepan, and let sit for 2 minutes. To serve, place a portion on each of 6 serving plates. Top each portion with crumbled bacon, and sprinkle with mixture of chestnuts, sage and pumpkin seeds. Add a dash more cheese. Garnish each plate with a dollop of mascarpone if desired, and serve immediately.


Anonymous said...

OMG, that sounds absolutely delish....and I would totally make it now even if it's so fattening because I'm not on a diet because I don't have a kitchen and I don't like "prepared take in food" and so we have to eat out every.....single.....night. But, if someone made it for me, I would eat it right up, you can count on that. Thanksgiving??? Love The Aunty.

Anonymous said...

oooh, brilliant!

I did love love the mental tasting of that buttery risotto and would be glorious at Thanksgiving...along with the stuffing and some sort of potato with chesse and maybe maybe sweet potatoes with marshmellows and of course there's the pumpkin bread and the carrot ring god, what abo....should there be some protein?

you ladies look gawgeous