Of course, you can’t always know what you want, or how long you’ll have to cook it the day before. With English weather eternally unpredictable we didn’t know at the weekend if the sun would shine and we’d want to be out, or have a lighter lunch, or plan for the normal rainy and cold day here with heartier fare. One thing I always do is prepare stock in advance and freeze it, portioned-up in separate containers. This way you can have a meal with quite a depth of flavour and sophistication almost the moment you want to. In this case, just defrosting a stock and adding to rice with a little white-wine and pumpkin gives a result much more worthy of dinner-party dining than a quick 40 minutes when you’ve come back hungry from a trip out.
Pumpkin Brown Risotto
2 cups of pumpkin chopped into 1cm cubes.
1 cup risotto rice
1 tbs butter
2 tbs olive oil
1 stick of celery
1 cup of white wine (we use a non-alcoholic Sainsbury’s own brand)
5-7 cups stock
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
- preheat your oven to 200 degrees and toss the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with sake and pepper and scattering evenly over a baking tray, bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Checking and turning or shaking once of twice.
- Add the rest of the oil and butter in a heavy bottomed pan and warm over a medium-low heat. Now add the celery and sauté for five minutes until it softens, then add the risotto rice and stir, toasting the grains for another five minutes.
- Now turn up the heat and add the white wine. Keep stirring until the wine has cooked off and the rice is almost dry again. Then add two ladle fulls of stock and turn the heat down to medium again.
- Keep stirring constantly and adding stock when the rice has almost dry, being careful to taste after 15 minutes, to check if the rice is cooked. Add the stock cautiously towards the end so you avoid a ‘soppy’ consistency to your risotto. You want it ‘all a olla’; like a ‘wave’. Not too wet, not too dry, texture is everything.
- As soon as the pumpkin is cooked, puree half of it with the milk, thyme and nutmeg. When the rice is almost cooked but still has a very slight bite too it, add the pumpkin-puree and keep stirring for a few minutes more.
- Cover and let the risotto rest a few minutes to firm up slightly before stirring in the rest of the pumpkin. Scatter the pine nuts over the top and a little grated parmesan if using.