x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Marco Pierre White: Pumpkin risotto

Stir things up for winter with a rich and flavourful dish Cinderella would just love.

Pumpkin risotto is the perfect winter dish, even in a relatively warm climate.
Pumpkin risotto is the perfect winter dish, even in a relatively warm climate.

I love this time of year, and do you know why? Not because it is coming up to Christmas, or that the weather in Abu Dhabi is nice enough for me to visit, but because it is pumpkin time of year. And rather like Winnie the Pooh when he sees bees and concludes that seeing bees can mean only one thing (honey), when I see a pumpkin I conclude it can mean only pumpkin risotto. Or, at a push, pumpkin pasta, but risotto is my absolute favourite.

There is something magical about pumpkins; remember Cinderella? You would never have fallen for a Granny Smith apple being turned into a carriage, would you? But a pumpkin is somehow believable. And then there is all the spooky Halloween stuff. Did you know by the way, that a pumpkin is a fruit, not a vegetable?

This recipe is not complicated, and those of you with risotto fear do read on. The key to a good risotto is moisture and elbow grease. The stirring is, of course, central to the whole dish. There is no getting away from it, but once you start you actually get quite into it.

An Italian friend of mine who makes excellent risottos tells me the secret is to throw a load of butter in at the end with the Parmesan and let the risotto settle for a couple of minutes. You will see I have incorporated her tip into this recipe. I love butter, so happily do this, but if you're watching your weight, then you can go easy on the fat content. Don't skimp on the cheese, though. Risotto needs Parmesan, or it can taste bland. The saffron helps to add flavour, too, as does the chicken stock.

If you want to be really posh and impress your guests, then serve your risotto in the pumpkin shell. You will need to buy a whole pumpkin and cut it in half, then take the flesh out. If you have leftover pumpkin, knock up a soup, maybe adding carrots and a potato for texture. Or if that seems too wintry, make a roast pumpkin and rocket salad, add some lightly cooked pine nuts to it and to dress it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Divine!

 

MAKE IT YOURSELF

Pumpkin risotto

INGREDIENTS

3.5l chicken stock

600g pumpkin flesh, cubed

250g butter

2 small onions, finely chopped

700g arborio or risotto rice

1 pinch of saffron

4 good handfuls of grated Parmesan

Salt and black pepper to taste

 

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bring the chicken stock to pre-boil and gently simmer.

2. Wrap the pumpkin cubes in foil, then place them in the oven and cook for about 30 minutes until very soft.

3. Purée pumpkin in a food processor.

4. Over a low to medium heat, warm half of the butter in a large saucepan and gently sauté the onion for a few minutes until soft and translucent.

5. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes, deglaze with two ladles of stock and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

6. Add the pumpkin and enough stock to cover all.

7. As the stock reduces, gradually add more while stirring all the time, until the rice is tender but still has a little bite (this will take around 10 minutes).

8. Halfway through adding the stock, stir in the saffron.

9. When the rice is cooked, remove from heat, add the remaining butter and half the Parmesan, cover and allow it to sit for a couple of minutes.

10. To serve, place in deep bowls, top with the remaining Parmesan and season to taste.

 

SERVES 8