Pumpkin, sausage and mushroom risotto

Pumpkin risotto is one of the many variations on the classic Italian slow-cooked rice dish, which is made with a type of rice that releases some of its starch into the cooking liquid, creating its own sauce. In order for this risotto, or any risotto for that matter, to cook, you must use short, roundish and chubby grains of rice with copious amounts of starch.  Carnaroli or  vialone nano are the best options, arborio will do if you can’t find the first two. Stirring is key, so be prepared to stand and stir, looking, smelling, and tasting — you can’t do anything else at the same time.

prep time 15 min     cook time 40 min
ingredients for 4
  • 360 g carnaroli rice
  • 1,5 l vegetable broth
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 400 g pumpkin, cubed
  • 300 g sausage
  • 300 g mushrooms (button or portobello)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 2 knobs butter, cold
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bayleaf
  • handful of grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring the broth to a boil and reduce the heat to steady simmer.

2. Clean the pumpkin and cut into fairly big cubes. Wipe the mushrooms and slice them. Remove casings from sausages and crumble them. Chop the onion.

3. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat and add onion. After a few minutes add crumbled sausages, stir and keep cooking for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin and mushrooms, stir to coat and keep cooking for another 3-5 minutes. Add the bayleaf.

4. Add the rice and stir until the grains are coated in fat and become translucent. Do not let them brown. Add the wine and stir constantly until it is absorbed and the alcohol has evaporated. The grains must be heated through before you add the wine – “it should sizzle as it hits the pan”.

5. Start ladling broth on top and keep adding 1-2 ladles at a time stirring constantly after each addition and adding the next amount only after the previous one is fully absorbed by the rice.

6. Taste the rice. You are looking for al dente, with the grains just a bit toothsome (a little resistant to the bite) but cooked — not hard or powdery. Check the salt.

7. When the rice is done, which might take up to 30 minutes, turn off the heat. Add the butter and the cheese and cover, let rest for 2 minutes. Uncover and stir quickly. This is called mantecatura.

8. Serve immediately. Risotto is not a make-ahead dish. Even if you finish it 15 minutes before serving and simply allow it to sit, risotto turns into a paste.