I cannot believe it’s already November! Just last week I was walking through fallen leaves in a leather jacket; today I had to wear mittens and it snowed in my hometown this morning! I’m even kicking off the holiday season tonight with the Holiday Home Tour in London – you get to walk through five (very nice) houses that have been professionally decorated for the holidays, and also enjoy some entertainment and treats along the way. I admit part of the reason we go is to get a peek into other people’s elaborate homes (which are much nicer than my little apartment!), but it’s also fun to get into the Christmas spirit and start getting decorating ideas!
Even though we’re heading towards winter, I hope it’s not too late for pumpkin recipes because I’ve still got a couple good ones to share, like this pumpkin ale risotto! I bought pretty much every type of pumpkin beer I saw this fall, and I just couldn’t drink them all fast enough so I tried to experiment with using them in my food. I had recently seen the idea of using beer instead of wine when you’re making risotto, which got me thinking that pumpkin ale would be perfect to use in a pumpkin risotto! I used a basic risotto recipe but replaced the white wine with pumpkin ale, added some pureed squash along with some roasted pieces of squash for texture (my grocery store was out of pumpkins but squash worked just as well), then added a bit of nutmeg and sage for seasoning. The result was a creamy and comforting risotto with a subtle pumpkin flavour that’s perfect for either fall or winter!
Pumpkin Ale Risotto
Serves about 4
1 (~3lb) cooking pumpkin or squash (I used butternut squash because pumpkins weren’t available at my store)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt & pepper
4 cups (1L) low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups dry Arborio rice
1 cup of your favourite pumpkin ale
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon dried sage or rosemary
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (or more if desired)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel and slice squash/pumpkin into small, 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until tender. Mash enough cubes to make 1 cup of mashed squash/pumpkin, and reserve 1-1/2 cups of cubed squash/pumpkin. Save any remaining squash for another use.
Add chicken or vegetable stock to a medium pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and leave gently simmering as you make the risotto.
Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and stir for another 30 seconds, then add rice and stir for 1-2 minutes to toast the rice. Add pumpkin ale in two additions, stirring until absorbed each time.
Set a timer for 20 minutes, and for the duration of the timer, continuously add the simmering stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stir until absorbed by the rice, then add another ladle, stir again, etc. Keep stirring the rice constantly with a flexible heat-proof spatula. When the 20 minutes are up, taste and ensure rice is cooked to al dente.
Add the mashed pumpkin, nutmeg, and sage and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, add the parmesan cheese, stir and taste, and adjust any spices or seasonings to taste (you may wish for more nutmeg or the addition of cinnamon if you really want the pumpkin flavours to come through). Gently stir in the cubed squash/pumpkin. Serve warm.