Hey, misfits, have I ever told you guys about the time I accidentally got covered, head-to-toe, in fresh risotto? And then, how I shamefully ate a full cup of it off of myself before trying to clean up? And after that, how I used to dab myself behind the ears with risotto before going out for dates and special occasions, just to duplicate the scent?! No?! I haven’t?!
Well, thanksfully, that never happened. But I not-so-secretly wish that it had.
I’m a big fan of risotto, especially now that I’ve devised a few shortcuts for when you’re dog-tired, don’t feel like a trip to the store (time that could be spent drinking, people!), and aren’t fussy about making risotto the “real” way. First, I start with rice that I’ve pre-cooked in seasoned broth.
Calm down, you purists, you!
Second, I do not use arborio rice, as plain old brown rice works just fine.
While these two steps are not authentic and will probably not please the risotto authorities that be, you will end up with a damn fine dinner, and if they help you to consume larger quantities of risotto, then by golly, who do these risotto purists think they are?! Who?!
No, seriously…who are the purists? And where do they hang out? I always wanted to meet one. (Are they different from Puritans? Do they not dance? Dance a little? Dance only by the book? Is there a dancing book?)
This isn’t to say that recipes and cookbooks and rules and such don’t have a place–of course they do. I have what the DSM IV would probably call a clinical addiction to cookbooks. And if you don’t approach a new food with a bit of humility, you won’t learn something new, and it’ll be harder to strike out on your own with confidence. But if you have a tendency to let perfectionism paralyze you, you’ll have to make a conscious effort to keep your sense of fun and adventure about you as you cook.
After all, no one ever shed serious tears over a cookie that had way more than the recommended dosage of chocolate chips in it. Or if there are such people…they must be way boring to party with, no?
And remember, you can just forget what the purists say about risotto–it can, and does, make one hell of a perfume!
Shortcut Pumpkin Bacon Risotto
Makes about 4 servings if you don’t ladle it over yourself, substantially fewer if you do
3 cups cooked rice
3-5 cups seasoned broth (or do as I do and use half broth, half wine)
1 Tablespoon butter
3 thick slices all-natural, nitrite-free bacon, diced
About 1 cup pureed pumpkin (I roasted and pureed my own pumpkin, but canned will work fine as well)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. Jamaican Allspice (preferably from The Spice House)
1/4 tsp. Saigon Cinnamon (preferably from The Spice House)
1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley
Put the broth in a pot on the stove and keep it at a nice, gentle simmer. In a large saucepan, heat a small splash of olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bacon, and sautee, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to render its fat, but before it’s crispy or dark.
At this point, stir in the rice and cook it, stirring constantly, until the rice takes on a golden color. Add two ladles or so of hot stock, and stir constantly until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid. Add another ladle-full and repeat the process. When the rice mixture is just short of creamy (see picture; you may or may not have to add another ladle to get it there, depending on the rice you used), add your pumpkin and another ladleful of stock.
Stir gently to combine, and add the allspice, cinnamon, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir until the risotto has a creamy and tender (though not mushy) consistency. You’re done! We actually topped this with a drizzle of black truffle oil, but it’s delicious as is, served along with a bowl of delicate greens.
© 2008 – 2011, Genevieve P. Charet. All rights reserved.