Risotto and I – we are real good friends. It started when Jamie Oliver decided it was the new black, but it wasn’t until my good Italian friend Paolo introduced me to his version that I truly fell in love. That Saturday night, in his apartment in central Copenhagen, where I was taught the secrets of the Italian risotto over a glass of wine. We are students after all, so the risotto was cooked in a wok and I am sure there’s Italian mama’s everywhere turning in their graves, so I hereby promise that I do not do that myself… nevertheless – it was absolutely delicious! I have later learned from my aunt who lived in Italy for a while that the real traditional way to cook it is in a clay pot to prevent the rice from burning, however you (and I) can easily do it in a pan with tall edges. And once you got the basic recipe down, you can add in whatever ingredients and flavors you want. It’s really the perfect leftover dish, and you will impress everyone that tastes it!
I cooked this recipe for the first time for New Years Eve last year. It was a spontaneous get-together and I ended up in the kitchen with one of my boyfriend’s colleagues. We somehow whipped up a rather awesome dinner on a budget in a tiny city kitchen, and this dish was part of the main course. We served it with an awesome organic pork chop, but it’s just as great on its own as an everyday meal.
Besides pumpkin, a key ingredient in this dish is chestnuts – another awesome fall ingredient. I have great childhood memories of eating chestnuts with butter and salt and even more so, being allowed to eat them in front of the TV. That joy was revitalized last fall when I went on a day-trip to Sweden with a group of friends and found a chestnut tree. I promise you, they taste even better when you pick them yourself. However – they are easily mistaken with horse chestnuts which are poisonous, so if you are in any doubt: go to your greengrocer and buy local chestnuts there! You can use pre-cooked chestnuts from a vacuum pack, but it’s just not as magical. If you do choose that option however, make sure to get good quality, organic ones
I normally serve this risotto with a simple salad with a balsamic dressing. The pumpkin and chestnuts make the risotto quite sweet, which is what makes it so perfect for a cold autumn night – however, it does need the salty bacon and tangy dressing to balance the flavours! Enjoy!
For 3-4 people
200 grams of amborio risotto rice
1.2 liters of chicken stock (approx.)
1 glass of dry white wine
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoon of coconut oil
60 grams of grated Parmesan cheese + some for the table
250 grams of fresh pumpkin
6-8 rashers of smoky bacon
1 teaspoon of cayenne
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
Salt and pepper for seasoning.
1. Cut your chestnuts with a pair of scissors (as shown in the picture) and bake for approximately 30 min at 200C or until they open up themselves. Peel.
2. Dice the pumpkin, rub the pieces in the cayenne and coriander as well as 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (you can easily use olive oil, I just prefer coconut in most of my food). Bake at 200C for 35 min or until soft.
3. Dice onion and garlic and fry (in a tall edged pan) gently in the rest of the coconut oil until soft and clear – don’t let them take color. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
4. Add the rice and let them toast with the onions for another couple of minutes. Add the white wine and let it boil till it is almost absorbed by the rice.
5. Add chicken stock with a ladle gradually. Let the rice absorb the liquid whilst constantly stirring, then add more.
6. When most of the stock has been added, taste the rice and check if they are cooked. You want them soft, but still with texture and a bit of bite.
7. Take the pumpkin out of the oven, break up the chestnuts lightly and add them to the pan. Cover with bacon rashers and put back in the oven. Put the oven on grill or the highest setting and keep an eye on it. Take it out when the bacon is crispy.
8. Mash the pumpkin with a fork. I like it when some of it is smooth and some is chunky.
9. Turn of the heat on the risotto – first add the pumpkin and chestnuts and stir. Then add the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper if needed,
10. Scoop into shallow bowls. Put the bacon rashers on top and serve whilst hot, with a bit of Parmesan on the side.