Comfort food season is in full swing. All things warm, huggable, hand- and heart warming, satisfying and delicious at the same time. This Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms does tick all these boxes.
How easy do we all slide into the comfort mode; one pot meals, warm colors, soups, casseroles, stews etc. I am no stranger in this respect. I know, I eat less ‘cold meals’ during fall and winter. During the summer though, I can easily live on salads.
A very simple way to get color and flavor into a dish is pumpkin puree. It makes a pale risotto into a warm fall dish in a matter of minutes.
This time, I have also added mushrooms. My favorite way of cooking mushrooms is to cook them past soft, and add some lemon juice.
How to cook mushrooms?
- Clean and quarter or slice the mushrooms. Cut the bottom off the stem of the mushroom. Mushroom are often dirty; they grow close to the dirt, so that’s a given. Brushing mushrooms or cleaning them with a damp towel seems very labor intensive and unnecessary. There is this believe that cleaning mushroom with water will somehow make them absorb water. That may be true when you soak the mushrooms in water for a while. If you clean the mushrooms under running water in a colander or simply in your hands, the mushrooms will be just fine. Place them on a kitchen towel after you rinsed them. Then cut the mushrooms in quarters or slices and place them on a dry kitchen towel again. The mushrooms will have no time to absorb any water. If you clean them just before you need them, there is also no chance that they turn brown. You can rinse all mushrooms with water, except morels (as far as I know).
- Cook mushroom in a skillet. Cook the quartered or sliced mushrooms in a pan with a enough surface, so you can spread them in a single layer. You want the moisture to evaporate as quickly as possible. If you don’t have that pan, cook in portions.
- Add fat to the skillet. Before you start cooking, add some butter to the skillet. Or you can start with a dry skillet and add some butter at the end. I prefer to start with butter and garlic (or a garlic butter). In a dry skillet you will first create a Maillard reaction. If you cook in butter, you will create the Maillard reaction at the end, once all the moisture is evaporated. The Maillard reaction will add color and flavor to the mushrooms. I like to cook the mushrooms beyond soft, I like them void of moisture and just a little crunchy. Be careful, once the moisture is gone, you can easily burn the mushrooms.
- Add additional flavor. My favorite is lemon juice. It brings a nice contrasting flavor to the earthy flavor of the mushrooms. If you prefer to emphasize that earthy flavor, you could add sherry.
Let’s make the Pumpkin Risotto
- Heat butter in a Dutch oven and cook garlic and onion translucent. Then add rice and coat with butter. Add white wine and warm stock, little by little, until totally absorbed by the rice.
- Next is to mix in the pumpkin puree, grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of nutmeg if you prefer.
- Divide risotto over 2 plates, top with mushrooms and garnish with chopped sage.
Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup rice carnaroli or arborio
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 cups stock vegetable or chicken
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 3 cups mushrooms
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese grated
- salt and pepper
- nutmeg optional
- 1/2 tablespoon sage chopped
- Cut the bottom of the stem of the mushroom, wash and dry them. Slice them and set aside. (note1)
- Warm the stock.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a Dutch oven or high walled skillet and and saute the onion and the garlic until translucent.
- Add the rice and stir until every grain is coated with the butter. Add the white wine and stir until all the wine is absorbed by the rice.
- Now add the broth, ladle by ladle. Stir regularly until all the broth is absorbed by the rice as well. A risotto is done when the rice is soft and tender with just a little bite – al dente. (note 2)
- This total process will take max. 30 minutes.
- When you are getting close to the cooking time of the rice, start cooking the mushrooms.
- In a skillet heat 1 tablespoon of butter on medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook them until all the water is evaporated. (Note 3)
- Finish the risotto by adding the pumpkin puree and the cheese. Stir gently and allow the cheese to melt. Add salt and pepper to taste and if you like, add some nutmeg for a slightly warmer effect.
- Divide the risotto over 2 plates or bowls. Serve the mushrooms on top and garnish with sage.
- The best way to clean mushroom is to washing them. It is also a whole lot faster than brushing them clean. Pour water in a bowl, add all the mushrooms you need for your recipe and clean the, using your hands. Take the whole mushrooms out of the water and place them on a kitchen towel and pad them dry. Slice the mushrooms and again place them on a dry kitchen towel. If you do this just before you start cooking, the mushrooms will still be beautifully white (in case of button mushrooms) and not soggy.
- Warm the broth before adding it to the warm rice; it coaxes starch out of each grain and prevents overcooking. Cold broth takes longer to warm up in the risotto pan and may shock the grain into holding onto its starches while the rice itself continues to cook.
- Cook mushroom in a skillet; a pan with a large surface area. You want to be able to spread the mushrooms out in a single layer to allow the moisture to evaporate quickly. How long you want to cook the mushrooms depends a little bit on your preference. You certainly want them to become nice and brown. You can cook until they are soft or you can go a step further and cook them until the edges are slightly crunchy. (this is my favorite way).