Amateur Holiday Cook-Off

See Also
More Holiday Recipes

  Pumpkin-Gorgonzola Risotto With Fried Sage Leaves

The Chef
Jason Wright

Serves 6

1 cup canola oil
20 to 24 sage leaves
Half a small sugar pumpkin, peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks (about 3 cups; butternut squash can be substituted)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
11/2 cups Arborio rice
6–7 saffron strands
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup crumpled gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnish: 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Cooking Instructions
In a small saucepan, bring the canola oil to frying temperature (365 degrees) over medium heat. Drop 6 sage leaves, one at a time, into the oil, and fry for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and pat dry on a paper towel. Set aside. Repeat in batches with the remaining leaves. Cut 6 pumpkin chunks into quarter-inch cubes. Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in a saucepan, add the cubed pumpkin, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pumpkin with a slotted spoon, and set aside, reserving the water for the remaining pumpkin.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and set aside. Return the reserved pumpkin water to a boil, add the large chunks of pumpkin, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Pour pumpkin and cooking water into a blender, process until liquefied, return to the saucepan, and set aside.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, add onion, and sauté until soft. Add rice and saffron, and stir 11/2 minutes, until the rice is toasted. Add wine, and deglaze the pan. Add 1 cup hot chicken stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring regularly until the liquid is absorbed. Add pumpkin purée, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. The rice should be cooked after about 15 minutes, using 2 1/2 to 3 cups of pumpkin purée.

Remove pan from heat and stir in cheese. Return to heat, and stir in enough chicken stock to produce a creamy consistency. Remove from heat, stir in butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately in shallow soup bowls or salad plates. Garnish the center of each risotto with a pile of finely diced pumpkin, sprinkle with a teaspoon of toasted pine nuts, and place three to four sage leaves pointing outward from the center.