Radicchio and roasted pumpkin risotto with gingered pumpkin cream and braised fennel

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • For

    four

Appears in

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

The Café Paradiso Cookbook

By Denis Cotter

Published 1999

  • About

Pumpkin risotto is my ultimate comfort food and the gingered pumpkin cream here adds another layer of pampering for pumpkin lovers. I must admit I first made the cream for its colour and was a bit insecure about the whole dish, which also featured braised beetroot and leek along with the fennel; it looked stunning. Anyway, some of the fussiest of risotto eaters gave it the all-clear and I relaxed. The radicchio’s function in this bliss zone is to give a slightly bitter contrasting edge, though it loses a lot of its bitterness in the brief cooking it gets here. As often as not, when I want the dish to be its pure comforting self, I would leave it out or replace it with a less challenging green like chard or black kale. If you go for the whole package and serve the braised fennel here, start it first and check it often. The cooking time can vary wildly, depending on the age of the fennel amongst other things, but it will happily sit waiting in a low oven.

Ingredients

  • 400 g pumpkin flesh
  • 1 dstspn grated ginger
  • 300 mls stock or water
  • 100 mls single cream
  • 1 small head of radicchio
  • 60 mls olive oil
  • 60 g butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1200 mls stock
  • 320 g arborio or other risotto rice
  • 120 mls dry white wine
  • 60 g fresh parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  • braised fennel

Method

YOU’LL NEED A PUMPKIN of about 800g to get 400 g of useful flesh. Chop the flesh into small bite-size pieces. Toss 300 g of these with some olive oil and butter in an oven tray and roast them in a moderate oven, stirring them occasionally, until they are tender.

Put the rest of the pumpkin in a small pan with the ginger and 300 mls of stock, and simmer it gently until the pumpkin has broken down into the liquid, then blend this to a fine puree. Add the cream, a little salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper, maybe, and simmer again until the sauce has reduced and thickened. I like to serve a small, intense amount of the cream rather than a thin pool of it. It’s probably best to leave this last stage until the risotto is almost finished.

To cook the radicchio, tear the leaves coarsely, heat some olive oil in a pan, toss in the leaves and stir them over a high heat until they wilt. This will only take a minute, so do it during the cooking of the risotto.

Cook the basic risotto. When you put in what you have judged to be the last measure of liquid, stir in the roasted pumkin and radicchio as well. When the last of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the remaining olive oil and butter, and the grated braised fennel parmesan and season the risotto generously. Serve a mound of risotto on each of four warm plates and pour a stream of the pumpkin cream around it. Arrange a few pieces of braised fennel on each plate and offer extra parmesan to be sprinkled over the risotto.