Leaves are falling, pumpkins are picked and Halloween is just around the corner. It is Autumn! Time for something warm comforting and full of flavour. Autumn Risotto.
Love it or hate it, the Autumn is the the time when North American’s go pumpkin crazy. All of a sudden there is pumpkin stuffed into absolutely everything from scones to coffee to cakes to pizza. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and am doing my humble part to keep the craze alive. For a good part of the year, I love to make mushroom risotto, for the months of September right up until Christmas, I add squash because I am compelled to and because I love it!.
If you are looking for an authentic risotto recipe passed down from an old Italian Grandmother, you should probably google one because this is simply not it. This is a North American somewhat cheat’s version but it works and is an absolute crowd pleaser.
The key to a good risotto is the stock. Luckily, I almost always have a freezer full of vegetable stock. I don’t like to throw away veggie scraps and so I freeze them until I am feeling particularly industrious and make up a big batch of stock every now and then. What that means is that when I need stock in a hurry for a weeknight risotto, all that I have to do is throw a couple of frozen baggies full into a pot and I am in business. Don’t have a freezer full of stock? Just make sure that you use a good one with as many natural ingredients as possible.
A note about mushrooms and pumpkins. Butternut squash and brown mushrooms make an awesome risotto but I like to mix it up now and then. It just so happened that when I went to th grocery store to pick up a squash the other day, the only butternuts that they had were gigantic (I mean seriously gigantic), so I reached for the kabocha. It is a firmer and a little more starchy than the butternut but blends really well into the risotto. They also had the most amazing looking little shimeji mushrooms and so in they went. I like the idea of having little whole mushrooms in the risotto and they taste great.
When the weather turns cold and the fire is lit, reach for something starchy and rich and warm. Reach for a bowl of Autumn!
Warm, savoury and packed with flavour.
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1 punnet of shimeji or brown mushrooms (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 tsp dried sage
- 1 1/2 cup risotto rice
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 5 cups of vegetable stock
- 1/2 pack enoki mushrooms
- 2 cups roasted squash or pumpkin mushed up a little but still maintaining a few chunks. (cut one in half, brush with oil and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until soft)
- 1/2 cup shaved parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the stock to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer and keep it warm.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped onions, white pepper and bay leaf and salute until the onions are soft.
- Add the garlic and the shimmer mushrooms and stir for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms release some liquid.
- Add in the rice and stir to toast it for a couple of minutes. Be careful not to burn the rice but it is ok to get it a little toasty.
- Add in the wine and stir until dissolved.
- Reduce the heat to medium low.
- Add in the sage and begin to add the stock 1/2 cup at a time adding more as it is absorbed and stirring frequently.
- Continue to stir and add stock until the rice is almost cooked but still firm.
- Add in the roast pumpkin and the enoki mushrooms and stir well.
- Cook for a further 5 minutes until the rice is cooked through (you are not looking for mush here).
- Add the parmesan and taste for seasoning.
- There is no golden rule when it comes to the amount of stock. Sometimes it takes more and sometimes it takes less. You are looking for a consistency that oozes on the plate not a stodgy lump. Just keep adding liquid until you get it where you need it to be. You will know it when it gets there and will just look delicious and perfect.
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