Sunday, November 17, 2013

Squashin' Winter #SundaySupper...Featuring Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon, Goat Cheese and Pecans

This week, the #SundaySupper group is Squashin' Winter. Our hostess Heather from Girlichef challenged us to come up with a creative recipe featuring some type of squash. For me, November is about all things pumpkin...but I wanted to show how it can be used to make savory dishes sing with its sweet, earthy flavor! With that in mind, I present Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon, Goat Cheese, and Pecans. This is hearty enough to be a main dish, or it can be a fabulous side with roasted pork tenderloin. This recipe is my riff on a Giada de Laurentiis recipe I found at The Food Network website. I simply made a few changes to her recipe to use what I had on hand. 

I used olive oil in place of butter when cooking the risotto, along with subbing chopped shallot for leeks. I also added fresh thyme and half-and-half just before dishing the risotto up, and I added pecans to the topping to add a nutty flavor and a bit more protein. If you're intimidated by making risotto...don't be! It's not hard at just takes patience to stand at the stove and stir the entire time it cooks. Do what I do: pour a glass of wine and put on some great music. I personally find that Miles Davis' Kind of Blue is great risotto-making music! Let me show you how easy it is...

Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon, Goat Cheese and Pecans
adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • Generous pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
For the topping:
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Step 1: Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the olive oil. Cook until fragrant and toasted, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until it has been absorbed by the rice.
Step 2: Combine the chicken broth and pumpkin in a large measuring cup. Heat in the microwave until warm, whisking to incorporate the pumpkin into the broth. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin-broth mixture to the rice in the saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until the broth is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Repeat in 1/2-cup increments, until the rice is creamy and cooked. This will take 20-25 minutes total. You may not need all of the broth mixture...I used 3 cups for this batch of risotto. 
Step 3: When the risotto is cooked, it will look creamy and the rice should be al dente. Add the butter, half-and-half, fresh thyme, nutmeg, and salt & pepper. Stir to combine until the butter melts, then place the risotto in a large serving bowl.
Step 4: Top the risotto with the bacon, goat cheese and pecans. Just before serving, stir the topping ingredients into the makes for a nice presentation! Spoon the risotto into serving bowls. A nice green salad with a tart vinaigrette is a nice side to this rich dish.
I'm in love with this dish! It's comforting, yet elegant...creamy, but not overly heavy. The pumpkin gives the risotto a sweet earthy background flavor, and the color is gorgeous! Add in the pockets of creamy goat cheese, smoky bacon and crunchy nuts...and you've got a winner of a dish. I served it as a side the first evening, and the leftovers reheated perfectly the next night with some pulled pork on top. Bottom line: this one's a winner, folks!

Speaking of winners...make sure to check out all of the great recipes that this week's #SundaySupper contributors are sharing. They're using lots of great squash varieties to make main dishes, side dishes and desserts. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you're sure to find some ideas for you menu this year!

Breakfasts and Breads
Appetizers, Starters, and Condiments
Soups, Sandwiches, and Salads
Main Dishes
Side Dishes
Wine Pairing Recommendations for Squashin' Winter #SundaySupper from Enofylz Wine Blog

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET.  Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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