There was an evening this week when I found myself ensconced in front of a computer, reworking a strategy the day before it was to be presented to a client. I was helping out a colleague because that’s the kind of person I’ve become, I guess, and as the ten o’clock hour loomed, my coworker heated up her dinner and gave it to me. At first I refused but she would accept no refusal. And when she told me that this was a homemade pumpkin risotto with grilled chicken I nearly wept a poodle.
As one would expect, I hoovered the risotto. It was delicious, creamy, rich and enveloping and I loved how the thyme was the aftertaste. The dish was woodsy, hearty and I decided that night that I would make the risotto on the weekend.
Fast forward to Saturday where one could find me ensconced in front of a hot stove. Contrary to popular belief, risotto is quite easy to make — it’s just fiddly, you have to linger, you have to be devoted and steadfast. You have to play it as it lays and you can’t, under no circumstances, turn up the heat.
And you have to keep stirring until your hands can stir no more.
Don’t even think of turning up the heat.
If you have questions about making risotto, drop them in the comments section. I’d be happy to help!
1 qt low-sodium, organic/local chicken stock*
1 cup of arborio rice
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 shallot, fine dice
1/4 tsp salt; 1/8 tsp pepper
*1 quart is the equivalent of 32oz or 2 lbs
In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
In a large sauté pan (translation: a skillet that can hold 3-4 quarts), sauté the shallots and salt on medium heat until translucent (1-2 minutes). Add in the thyme and rice until the rice browns, approximately 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low
Add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir, and stir, and stir, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Keep ladling in the liquid in increments until all of the water is absorbed and the stock is thick and creamy. Remember, risotto isn’t a dish that will cook itself, it requires dedication, so be prepared to stand in front of the stove stirring for 20-30 minutes. Radiohead provides some comfort in these sorts of situations.
Once all of the water has been absorbed, stir in the pumpkin and pepper until the risotto transforms into a satiny orange. Mix for a good minute and then add the cheese and stir until combined.
Serve pipping hot with a sprig of fresh thyme.