The first time I ever made risotto was for a boy, and not just any boy, but the first boy I’d ever cooked for. EVER. It’s funny how a memory of a meal can transport you back to a different place and time, how it conjures up feelings in such a way that you can almost imagine what it was like to be in front of the stove as that younger, earlier version of yourself.
I was 22 then, and while I liked being in the kitchen, my cooking skills were still in their infancy, resulting in a mix bag of triumphs and flops. Most of the things that are so natural and ingrained in my cooking now had yet to be discovered.
I’d carefully planned the meal – Walnut Risotto with Roasted Asparagus, Caprese Salad, and for dessert, Chocolate Mousse. Looking back, I wonder if it occured to me how ambitious it was given my abilities at the time? I did take the day off work to cook and prep, so I suspect I had at least a faint sense. Still, I’m almost amazed I pulled it off.
But the risk paid off and its reward was a deep love….
…but not with a man, but with rice. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, I am sure you anticipated that. Unfortunately whatever skills I possess in the kitchen I lack in the romance department.
But until Mr. Right comes along I’m content with my love affair with risotto. What won me over at first bite has remained one of my favorite meals to cook and eat. I know risotto has a bit of a reputation (or so I’ve heard of) of being high maintenance. However, I actually enjoy all the stirring. It’s mindless and actually relaxing, perfect for a Saturday with an open agenda. That’s exactly what I did this weekend.
My version combines fresh pumpkin with salty prosciutto and a bit of Brie to add a hint of indulgence and play up the risotto’s creaminess.
I also used homemade ham stock in place of the more traditional chicken stock to make the risotto. You could certainly use chicken or vegetable stock as they are easier to find, but I loved the pork stock in this. It strongly played up the flavor of the prosciutto and gave the dish a nice meaty flavor.
So enough about what went into it, how did it taste? As good as my first bite of risotto five years ago. I loved how the sweetness of the pumpkin and the saltiness and savoriness of the prosciutto. And the Brie, ah what isn’t better with Brie. So in other words, the whole thing was delectable and oh so worth making.
Adapted from Cooking Light
-2 cups cubed peeled fresh pumpkin (about 1 pound)
-3 cups ham stock (or alternatively low-sodium chicken broth)
-2 cups finely chopped onion
-1 large garlic clove minced
-1 cup uncooked Arborio or other short grain rice
-1 cup dry white wine
-2 tablespoons rindless Brie (such as Alouette brand)
-Salt to taste
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper
Cook pumpkin either by steaming it on the stovetop, covered, for 15 minutes or until tender or by placing it in a microwave save dish with 1/4 cup of water, covered for 4 minutes or until tender. Drain if necessary and set aside.
Bring broth to a simmer in a saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray; place over medium heat until hot. Add onion and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add rice; sauté 1 minute.
Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add warm broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 18 minutes total).
Stir in pumpkin; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.