Risotto takes patience.
You need to add broth, let the rice absorb the liquid, and repeat several times until the rice is tender. This requires much standing by the stove and vigilant stirring (note cool action shot below!).
We made pumpkin walnut risotto last night while listening to the New Hampshire primary coverage on the radio, with frequent runs into another room to check the online results.
After we combined ingredients and began to stir, it became increasingly clear that the candidate we both support was not going to win, despite several polls which had predicted the contrary (hint: his initials are B.O.).
We both thought his nomination was inevitable, but now we have a race that may not be decided for weeks.
On one hand, this is good because it gives more voters the chance to have a say. On the other hand, this makes me anxious. Like many Americans (and most of us who live on this planet) I am hopeful and excited that we're about to replace a terrible president, but I also worry about the potential outcomes of this election.
Like in cooking, where the slightest recipe variation can affect the taste of the entire dish, the vaguest shift of perception can change minds and votes (okay, that's not the greatest analogy but work with me, people). Sometimes the resulting flavor is a happy surprise. But sometimes you wish you never substituted this ingredient for that one. You wish you could take it back.
I just hope our country doesn't feel that way when the campaign is over.
I can't wait to find out.
Pumpkin Walnut Risotto [from the 12/19 issue of the Chicago Sun-Times]
(Speaking of recipe variations, I should note that we didn't make the walnut paste, but instead added those ingredients after sauteing the onions and pumpkin. We also added a 15-ounce can of tomatoes instead of a 10-ounce can. My boyfriend thought the risotto tasted like spagettios. That may have been why.)
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
½ cup walnuts
1/3 cup packed fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup onions, chopped
½ cup canned pumpkin or 1 cup pumpkin flesh, chopped
1 (10-ounce) can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ cups long grain rice
4½ cups hot chicken broth
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Process walnuts, parsley and garlic to a paste. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil, a tablespoon at a time. Add a pinch of salt; reserve.
Heat remaining olive oil in a large heavy pan; fry onion until lightly colored. Add pumpkin; continue to saute about 4 minutes. Mix in walnut paste. Add tomatoes; mix well and simmer until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice; stir-fry for a few minutes. Add hot broth in stages, stirring to use up all the broth. Allow rice to almost dry out before each addition.
Risotto is ready when it is no longer watery and rice is tender while retaining a very slight firmness in the center of each grain. It takes 20 to 30 minutes. Mix in half the Parmesan; sprinkle the remaining half on top.