Weekends are wild at my house.
I would like to sit here and pretend that it’s because we are such social butterflies that our presence is constantly in demand. And in five years when we venture into the world of little league, pee wee football, soccer practice, and birthday parties, that will probably be the case.
No, it’s because we have a whirlwind of a two-year-old under our roof. A two-year-old who is ALL BOY, by every definition of the word. A two-year-old who never stops moving unless he is sleeping.
He is very entertaining and I wouldn’t give him back for all the money and milk chocolate in the world. But if you are or ever have been the parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/babysitter of a two-year-old, then I don’t have to tell you it’s exhausting. There are moments – like when I’m trying in earnest to drink my cup of morning coffee I made two hours ago that has long since gone cold and I suddenly notice he’s scaling the back of the couch to reach for a very breakable vase that until now I thought was out of his grasp – when I would give anything for a pause button. Just a moment of silence, a moment of stillness, a moment of clarity to catch my breath.
Maybe that’s why I have found the process of making risotto strangely therapeutic. Risotto doesn’t like to be rushed. It doesn’t like to be hurried along. You don’t need to be quick on your feet or have the reflexes of a jack rabbit to keep up. You stand in front of a stove and stir, and stir, and stir some more. And if there is a glass of wine within arm’s reach, it’s that much more enjoyable.
I was very much looking forward to getting Little Tot to bed Saturday night so I could start sautéing bacon, chopping leeks, stirring rice, and sprinkling cheese. The pumpkin and the mushrooms were very meaty, earthy, and went together perfectly.
The Husband – being the carnivore that he is – suggested adding some diced sausage to the mix, like a spicy Chorizo or Andouille. I thought it was perfect as is – creamy, complex, and enjoyed in a moment of silence.
Pumpkin Risotto with Mushrooms and Bacon
- 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved, then diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat a lightly greased large sauté pan or skillet with high sides over medium heat. Add bacon and sauté until it begins to render some of its fat, about five minutes.
- Add leeks and mushrooms. Saute for an additional five minutes or until leeks become tender and bacon is completely cooked.
- Add garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and bacon from the pan, reserving as much to the bacon grease as possible. Set vegetables and bacon aside.
- Add the rice to the pan. Stir rice until completely coated with the bacon grease.
- Add one cup of the chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce heat to medium. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Bring mixture to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until all liquid is absorbed. Add the second cup of chicken broth and continue cooking as above. Add the white wine and thyme and again, continue cooking as above. Total cooking time will be around 30-45 minutes and by now, rice should be creamy and tender.
- Return the vegetables and bacon mixture to the pan. Stir to combine and heat through.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper as desired.