Risotto will always have a special place in my culinary heart. It was one of the very first proper dinner recipes I ventured out and tried to master. Anyone who dined at my house between 1994 – 2003 would have no doubt been served a risotto. I was budget conscious and risottos were incredibly cheap as I would do mostly tomato risottos.
Since our children have started to eat with us the risottos have slowed down. My kids don’t have a streak of Italian in them as not one of them likes to eat risotto. I have tried the most basic risotto with just a good grating of cheese, pumpkin risottos and chicken risotto but their plates remained untouched. It seems ironic they don’t like them as I thought the creamy combination of rice, butter and cheese would be ideal nursery food. I find the combination truly comforting.
So this beautiful risotto was for Joel and me. I found the recipe in the Matthew Evans book ‘Winter On The Farm’ and as it was quite cold and blustery over the weekend it was the perfect warming supper.
I used pork and fennel sausages that had a little chilli in them and the flavours just melded and infused into every single grain of rice. The pumpkin was grated into the risotto and the end product was little flecks of orange which looked beautiful. I followed the recipe to every single specified gram and millilitre and it was successful. I absolutely loved it. Joel absolutely loved it. This is possibly going to the number three position in my top 10 risotto experiences.
pumpkin and meatball risotto
(from Matthew Evans book ‘Winter On The Farm’)
200g pork sausage meat
200g (about 1 large) leek, white part only, rinsed and finely chopped
200g pumpkin, grated or cut into 2mm dice
400g risotto rice
200ml good quality white wine
1.5 – 2 litres chicken stock, simmering in a saucepan
80g Parmesan, finely grated
Break up the sausage meat into little meatballs about 1.5cm in diameter.
In a large, heavy-based saucepan (I used a 30cm non-stick pan that worked a dream) melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the mini meatballs and let them sizzle and brown all over.
Reduce the heat and add the leeks. Cook, stirring often, for 4 -5 minutes or until leeks are soft then add the pumpkin and rice. Stir for a couple of minutes then add the wine. Increase the heat and stir until the wine has all been absorbed.
Then add a ladle of the simmering stock to the risotto and keep stirring the risotto. Once the stock has been absorbed add another ladle of stock. Continue until 1.5 litres of stock have been used. Check if the rice is cooked, it should have just a slight, slight bite to it. If it needs more cooking just continue with one ladle of stock at a time until the rice is perfect.
Take the risotto off the heat and stir through half the cheese. Allow the risotto rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the remaining cheese and a good grinding of fresh black pepper.