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What Is Risotto?
Risotto is an Italian rice dish, traditionally cooked with broth, butter, Parmesan cheese, white wine, and seasonal vegetables.
Risotto is traditionally made with arborio rice, a rounded short-grain white rice with a high starch content that gives risotto its signature creamy consistency.
Massimo eschews white wine and cheese for the pure flavor of roasted, puréed pumpkin sweetened with orange juice, ground with toasted almonds, and brightened with small pieces of sweet-and-spicy mostarda (preserved candied fruit). The idea is to get to the soul of the rice and extract its purest flavor.
Variations on Massimo Bottura’s Pumpkin and Orange Risotto
Historically, Italian pumpkins are grown in the north, while oranges typically hail from the southern region of Sicily. While they come from different parts of the country, these two ordinary ingredients actually pair perfectly in Massimo’s opinion.
- The beauty of this recipe is that any type of winter squash can be used: butternut squash, acorn squash, sugar pumpkins, or another variety you might prefer. Try different combinations until you find what you like the best.
- Similarly, try different orange-like citruses until you find one whose balance of sweetness and acidity complements the pumpkin you chose as well as your palate.
- In the summertime, try grapefruit.
- In winter, experiment with pomegranate juice and Turkish spices. Or even use this same application with peaches instead of pumpkin.
- Once you’ve mastered Massimo’s classic pumpkin risotto accented with orange, try making his chocolate-orange version, which focuses on bringing the fruit to the forefront of your palate. A final drizzle of dark chocolate puts a twist on the classic flavor combination.
Chef Massimo Bottura’s Pumpkin Risotto Recipe
Prep Time1 hr
Total Time10 hr
Cook Time9 hr
For the pumpkin purée:
- 1 medium pumpkin or winter squash
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) apple mostarda
- 1 3/4 ounces (50 grams) crushed amaretti
For the traditional variation:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound and 2 ounces (500 grams) risotto rice, preferably Vialone Nano
- 4 1/4 cups (1 liter) freshly squeezed orange juice
- 7 ounces (200 grams) pumpkin purée
- Sliced, toasted almonds, crushed amaretti, and apple mostarda (see
- below), to garnish
Additional ingredients for the chocolate-orange variation:
- 3 oranges
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- Melted dark chocolate, to taste
- Sliced, toasted almonds, to garnish
- Blackened orange (see below), to garnish
- Make the pumpkin purée. Heat the oven to 175°F. Split the pumpkin in half, and scrape out the seeds and strings from the center (your yield should be about 21⁄4 pounds or 1 kilogram of flesh). Peel the pumpkin halves, then cut into rough 1-inch (3-centimeter) cubes. Spread the pumpkin cubes on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the oven. Bake at least eight hours or overnight, until the pumpkin is as smooth as custard. Transfer the flesh to a blender, add the apple mostarda and the crushed amaretti, and process until very smooth. Transfer the purée to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to four days.
- Make the risotto. Heat a small splash of olive oil in a medium-high skillet over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring until lightly toasted and fragrant. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and pour in a splash of water to cool down the pan quickly. Stir until the water is almost evaporated, then pour in 7 tablespoons (100 milliliters) of the orange juice, stirring until the orange juice is almost evaporated. Continue adding orange juice in 7-tablespoon (100-milliliter) increments, cooking and stirring constantly. Wait until each batch is almost evaporated before adding the next. Continue until all the juice is added and the rice is al dente. Stir in the pumpkin purée, then remove the skillet from the heat. Drizzle in some olive oil and a splash of water to help create a smooth sauce.
- Plate the traditional variation. For the traditional variation, spoon the risotto onto a warm plate to form a thin layer. Sprinkle the almonds, amaretti crumbs, and pieces of apple mostarda over the rice to serve.
- Plate the chocolate-orange variation (if making). Pipe or spoon small dollops of candied orange purée on the bottom of a serving plate. Spoon the risotto over the dollops (enough to cover them). Drizzle the risotto with the chocolate and sprinkle with almonds. Using a microplane grater, lightly grate the blackened orange over the risotto to serve.
Candied Orange Purée:
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove wide strips of zest from 2 of the oranges. Place the strips on a cutting board, and thinly slice lengthwise to form matchstick-size pieces.
- Place the zest strips in a small saucepan with the granulated sugar and water, and stir to combine. Place the pan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- As soon as the syrup comes to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat, pour the syrup and zest into a glass jar, and cover with the lid. Let the syrup and zest cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
- Place the orange strips in a blender and process, pouring in just enough syrup as needed, until the purée is smooth and thick. Transfer the purée to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one week.
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Wash 1 large navel orange clean with warm water, then dry it thoroughly.
- Place the orange on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, and bake in the oven until blackened all over, about one hour.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 160°F, and continue cooking the orange until it is dehydrated and brittle, at least eight hours or overnight.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and let the orange cool completely. Store the orange in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.
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