You are going to have to take my word on this one because there is no photo of the risotto. Instead i'm mixing it up and showing you this picture of a bunch of flowers that I stole from a crack in the pavement somewhere. Everyone likes flowers. Right? The risotto photo was just so quickly taken that I can't put it up here without being laughed out of town. Apologies will be given in writing if you insist.
Moving on... If I went out of my comfort zone for the dumplings, then this post I'm literally snuggled up in the doona, in the bed, in the cocoon, that is my comfort zone.
Risotto is my kind of fall-back dinner, in the sense that it never fails in three categories:
A: To taste fantastic (in case you burn it)
B: To warm you up.
C: To use up the last of those ingredients in your fridge that are straining their necks hoping you'll notice them.
Let's really be honest here, this recipe is just an excuse for me to eat goats cheese and call it dinner. Again.
Crisp sage is another new favourite of mine. It gives a layer of something extra to an otherwise mostly soft-textured dish. The herb also reminds me of bunny ears. And I love bunnies, so THERE.
I've heard a lot of people complain about risotto, about how it always sticks to the bottom of the pot, how it's dry and how they don't care to be a slave to stirring. Boy oh boy have I got tips for you!
The stock AND the wine must be warm, not cold. If they are cold, the temperature shocks the rice and screws it up.
Once you have 'toasted' the rice with the oil, butter, onion and garlic, pour the wine in and DON'T STIR IT. This creates a pocket of oil underneath the rice that keeps it lubricated and it wont stick to the pan. If you do stir it, that layer will be lost and you will have to keep stirring until it's done. Therefor you can keep adding ladles of stock to the rice, let it soak up without disturbing it, and you won't have to stir it for about 10-15 mins. Your arms will thank you, promise.
Don't overcook it, risotto should be rather loose, not dry and sticky. The rice should be al dente, like pasta, once it is done don't leave it on the heat for too long or it will become claggy. You'll have to keep tasting to know when the rice is right.
With this wealth of knowledge you are armed to make the perfect risotto. Don't let me down and stir the pot! Or ELSE.
Pumpkin and Goats Cheese Risotto with Crisp Sage:
An original StoveTop recipe
(this recipe is pretty approximate, have done my best to figure out measurements but you can adjust easily to taste)
200g butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
a knob of butter
1/3 brown onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 1/4 cups aborio rice (generally the rule is 1/2 a cup per person but I'm greedy as)
3/4 cup dry white wine, warmed over low heat
approx 1 litre chicken stock, warmed over low heat
1/4 cup fresh soft goats cheese (or to taste, don't overdo it though or it will be too salty)
cracked black pepper
handful of chopped fresh sage
6 whole sage leaves
4 tablespoons olive oil, to fry the sage
Roast the pumpkin in an 200 degree C oven for 20 mins, or until soft. Set aside.
Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and stir until soft and translucent (not brown). Add the rice and stir to toast it for about 2 minutes, you should hear a crackling sound and the rice should turn a milky white colour.
Add the white wine, one quick stir and then leave the rice until it is just about all absorbed. Add the stock cup by cup, waiting until it is nearly all absorbed before adding the next cup. DO NOT STIR IT until the last cup of stock is added, don't worry, it wont stick. I can hear you worrying! If you do get tempted to stir it, that's fine, but you will not be able to stop stirring or it will stick to the bottom.
Taste the rice, if it is still crunchy add one more cup of stock, or a cup of warm water if it tastes too salty (depends on what stock you use, store bought stock packs in the salt). When the rice is just about al dente, turn down the heat to low, add the pumpkin and goats cheese and stir to combine, if the pumpkin is nice and soft it should break down into the rice, turning it a beautiful orange colour. Season with cracked black pepper. The goats cheese will have added enough salt.
Take the risotto off the heat and add the chopped fresh sage. Place the lid on the pot to keep the risotto warm while you fry the sage leaves for garnish.
For the crisp sage, heat the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan. When it is hot, add the sage leaves and saute for about 40 seconds until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.
Garnish hot risotto with crispy sage and enjoy!