Pumpkin Risotto with Pancetta
Note: Using canned pumpkin makes this recipe an easy weeknight meal. You can use fresh pumpkin or squash if you like; just simmer cubes of pumpkin or squash in water or stock for 20 to 25 minutes until fork-tender, then drain and mash. From "The Everything One Pot Mediterranean Cookbook," by Peter Minaki (Simon & Schuster, 2023).
• 1 c. diced pancetta
• 1/4 c. water
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 c. diced yellow onion
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
• 1/2 c. dry white wine
• 5 c. hot vegetable or chicken stock
• 1 1/2 c. canned pumpkin purée (see Note)
• 1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 tsp. sea salt
• 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp. thyme leaves
Place pancetta and water in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes until fat is rendered, water evaporates and pancetta crisps in the fat. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off excess fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon.
Add oil, onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add wine and continue stirring until almost all wine has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Add stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly until each ladle is absorbed. Continue stirring and adding stock until stock is used up and rice is tender. This should take about 20 minutes.
Stir in pumpkin, cheese, butter and half of the pancetta. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide risotto among four shallow bowls and top each with thyme and remaining pancetta. Serve immediately.