When I opened up my Twitter feed the other morning and saw a tweet from the recipe hunters over on NoshOn.It about a pumpkin risotto with Taleggio, I was sold. Taleggio is one of my favorite Italian cheeses — I’m a sucker for soft, washed rind varieties — and I’m always looking for ways to use up a partial can of pumpkin pureé.
With a few tweaks to my old standby basic risotto recipe, I had a very fall-appropriate, super creamy rice dish ready to be devoured. So creamy, in fact, it’s almost like having a bowl of mac n cheese. By using a generous pinch of saffron, the orange hue of the pumpkin was markedly enhanced — as was the flavor. And while I enjoyed it either way — with or without — the faintest dusting of poultry seasoning just before serving really ties together the flavors nicely. My kind of comfort food.
Pumpkin Risotto with Taleggio
Preparation Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: About 20 minutes
Serves: 2-4 as a main dish or side
- 1 quart (4 cups or 1 liter) chicken broth
- Generous pinch (about 1/4 teaspoon) saffron threads (optional)
- 28 grams (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 113 grams (4 ounces, 1 cup or about 1 medium) finely chopped yellow onion
- 113 grams (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) dry vermouth
- 270 grams (1 1/2 cups) arborio rice
- 122 grams (1/2 cup) canned pumpkin pureé
- 151 grams (1/3 pound) Taleggio, remove and discard rind and cube
- Heavy cream or half and half, if needed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Maldon sea salt or Kosher salt
- Poultry seasoning (optional)
In a small saucepan (2-quart), combine chicken broth and saffron threads (if using). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for the duration.
While the broth warms, measure oil into a large sauté pan or stock pot (4-quart or larger) over just-shy-of medium heat; heat until shimmering. Add the onion, sauté until translucent (about 5 minutes). Stir in rice, cooking until the liquid is absorbed (1-2 minutes, do not allow rice to color). Deglaze pan with vermouth, cook until liquid is absorbed.
Stir in about 1/2 cup of the hot broth at a time, stirring the rice mixture constantly. When the first batch of the liquid is nearly absorbed add another 1/2 cup broth; repeat with remaining broth. Once broth is used up, check rice for doneness (there should only be a little dot of white in the middle of a grain, tender with a little bite left, but not crunchy — very similar to al dente pasta). If the rice isn’t quite cooked properly, stir in 1/2 cup boiling water and cook until liquid is absorbed (if necessary, repeat until cooked).
(Note: When cooked at the appropriate temperature, adding water will not be necessary. If it’s hard in the middle but overcooked (looses shape, very mushy) on the outside that is a sign that the risotto was cooked over too high of heat, adjust temperature down next time. It’s very difficult to get it perfect on the first try, it takes some practice to figure out the perfect risotto cooking temperature for your stovetop.)
Once rice is cooked (described above), stir in pumpkin pureé. Add the cheese; stir until mostly melted (I like a few, small chunks remaining as a surprise/treat). If the risotto ends up too solid before you have a chance to serve it — it should still have some flow to it — stir in a little heavy cream or half and half to loosen it up a little (bonus: it will be extra rich and creamy). Season to taste with pepper and salt, and the faintest sprinkle of poultry seasoning (if desired); serve immediately.