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Pumpkin Risotto



Serves six

4 cups low (or no) sodium chicken stock, plus extra, as needed
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
4 slices thick apple wood smoked bacon, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 sweet (like Vidalia) onion, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
6 ounces coarsely crumbled goat cheese



Whisk together the broth and the pumpkin in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin broth warm.

In a large, heavy saucepan, cook the bacon pieces over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain and set aside for garnish.

In the same heavy large saucepan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add the diced onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until almost tender (do not brown), 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the thyme. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the pumpkin broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, and the mixture is creamy, 20 to 25 minutes, adding additional warm broth by 1/4 cup-fulls if risotto is dry. Mix in the Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, the remaining salt, pepper and nutmeg. Remove from the heat. Add more salt to taste.

Divide the risotto among 6 shallow bowls. Sprinkle each with the bacon, goat cheese and remaining parsley and serve.

Chef’s Tips: 1) When cooking with wine, always use wine that is good enough to drink. Taste it first, if it has turned, and does not taste good, it will not taste good in the food either. 2) If you really don’t care for goat cheese, it is perfectly fine in this recipe to substitute with feta. Have fun and enjoy!

Bettina Tolin is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin Texas. She has cooked in the kitchens of the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Florida. She is currently the Executive Chef and General Manager at Marcello’s Italian Restaurant and Bar in Port Isabel, Texas.
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