Autumn defined in one meal: Pumpkin and meatball risotto

As you have witnessed over the past few posts, Thanksgiving home time gave me the excellent opportunity to reboot and rekindle my dearly beloved blog. This pumpkin and meatball risotto was the final meal I made for my family on the Monday evening before returning to Ottawa.

It, of course, used pumpkin, my favourite food during Thanksgiving and the subsequent October weeks. Like many wonderful things, I found the recipe on Tastespotting, and quickly worked to recreate the masterpiece as best I could.

And as per usual, no dish is made without its challenges. As soon as I saw a mention of meatballs, alarm bells went off. The last time I tried the make the spherical delicacies at home, bad things had happened. Many things could have factored into my previous failure, including a lack of non-stick pan, my mom’s psychotic cycling heat oven, too much egg in the meatballs or all of the above. That batch of meatballs became meatcubes became meat pancakes. Before I knew it, things weren’t looking so hot. Many cautions were taken this time around to avoid duplicating what is now known as the famous Swedish meatball incident.

September 2010's failed meatball attempt. Womp womp.

The first of these precautions was to use my mom’s only non-stick pan. I knew from the start that this medium-sized pan was not going to be large enough to make the entire meal, and that transferring the meatballs over at some point would be inevitable.

Happy, cooking meatballs

Luckily, my choice was a good one. Perfectly shaped meatballs bubbled and bounced about in the melted, popping butter. Potential disaster number one: averted.

My second issue: in no way does pumpkin enjoy being grated.

Like, not at all.

Being the sometimes (read: always) unprepared amateur chef that I am, I left the pumpkin preparing until the last second. As in about four minutes before I was to add it to the already cooking, half-completed risotto.

I quickly realized that I had to both hull and peel the pumpkin before going any further. I swear, you have never seen a girl scoop the innards out of a pumpkin so quickly. Then, it was time to grate. You know how sometimes you grate something and more ends up on the front of the grater than in the back, grated pile? Yeah, well that happened. A mess was made and half of the kitchen counter was covered in a light, pumpkin dandruff. I paint an appetizing picture, n’est ce pas?

Anyways, about 15 minutes later, the pumpkin was done, and added to the mix. Finally.

Just for good measure, I added in some nutmeg, which, combined with the white wine, led to an extremely flavourful dish.

Speaking of flavour, my dad paid me a lovely compliment that went something along the lines of how my food is no longer just nice looking, but now also has complex and delicious flavours as well. He says I’ve improved. I am proud.

Recipe: Pumpkin and meatball risotto
Adapted from Tea for Six
– 1/4 cup butter, melted
– 300 grams ground pork
– 3 leeks, chopped (only the whites)
– 2 cups Arborio rice
– 200 ml white wine
– 5 cups chicken stock
– 1 cup pumpkin, grated
– ¾ tsp nutmeg
– ¾ cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
– 1/2 tsp salt
– Freshly ground pepper

Using your hands, roll the ground pork into little meatballs, about 1.5 centimetres in diameter.

In a large, non-stick saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mini meatballs and let them cook, gently turning them over until brown on all sides.

Reduce the heat and add the leeks. Cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until leeks are soft. Add the pumpkin and the rice. Stir for a couple of minutes and then add the white wine.

Increase the heat and stir until the wine is mostly absorbed.

Add the stock, about 2 cups at a time. Add more stock only when the previous amount is almost completely absorbed. Make sure you keep stirring the risotto, otherwise it will stick to the bottom. Continue to let the risotto and chicken stock simmer, making sure to stir frequently.

After all the chicken stock has been absorbed, add the nutmeg, salt, and Parmesan cheese. Stir well. Take risotto off heat and let sit for five minutes.

Serve with extra grated Parmesan cheese and some freshly ground pepper, to taste.

Makes six servings.


4 thoughts on “Autumn defined in one meal: Pumpkin and meatball risotto

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