Friday, May 29, 2009

Pumpkin Risotto with Goats Cheese and Basil (from MasterChef Australia)

Pumpkin Risotto with Goats Cheese and Basil
Home Cooking

As promised in yesterdays post, I redid the whole risotto thing after learning some tips and tricks from the MasterChef masterclass. Today, I made pumpkin risotto and followed their online video. You can watch it yourself here.

I bought a whole lot of ingredients to get this dish rolling but in actual fact, it's really easy. I just didn't have anything at home: white wine, rosemary, pumpkin - even garlic and onion. My fridge was bare and I really needed to do some grocery shopping.

When I was buying the goat's cheese to serve on top, I didn't want to get a whole wedge so I asked the boy at the deli to cut me a tiny, tiny block. I kept saying 'smaller - no smaller than that'. In the end, I had a piece that in my mind, was still too big but when I went to the cashier, I found out it was only 30c!! Might as well have bought more :D.

Pumpkin Risotto with Goats Cheese and Basil
Serves 1

  • 1/4 onion, chopped really finely
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup of white wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock (I used reduced salt Campbell's Real Stock)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • goats cheese and baby basil leaves to garnish
For the pumpkin puree
  • 100g pumpkin (I used butternut)
  • 2 tbsp butter

1. You can make the pumpkin puree first. Grate the pumpkin.2. Put the pumpkin in a small saucepan with 1 tbsp of the butter. Pop the lid on and cook on very low heat (to prevent burning) till the pumpkin is soft. If you squish it between your fingers, the shreds should disintegrate. By the way, my photo shows 250g worth of pumpkin because I made more puree than needed for this risotto so don't panic if you have less.
3. When the pumpkin is cooked, scoop it into a blender/food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the second tbsp of butter and blitz again. Set aside for now.
4. In a large saucepan, saute the onions and garlic clove in a tbsp of butter. I didn't chop or mince my garlic - just crushed it to release the flavors. I then fished out the garlic clove later on. Make sure you chopped your onions finely. I'm a terrible onion chopper - I ended up fishing out all my big pieces of onion.
5. Add the risotto rice and spread it around evenly in the pan to coat with butter.
6. Pour the white wine over the top and shake the pan to 'agitate' the rice and coat them with wine. Add in the sprig of rosemary.7. Pour in enough stock to just cover the rice. I warmed my stock in the microwave so that adding the stock doesn't lower the temperature of the rice.
8. The heat should be turned down so that the liquid is simmering gently. Add a bit of stock each time the previous amount is soaked up. Shake the pan periodically to agitate the rice and prevent them from sticking.
9. The risotto is cooked when the rice is just al dente (soft to bite but still slightly firm on the inside). Fish out the garlic and rosemary.
10. Turn off the heat and plop in another tbsp of butter and 2-3 tbsp of the pumpkin puree. Stir through gently. Add the Parmesan and stir through again. You can adjust the seasoning at this stage but I found that it was fine without addition of salt or pepper.11. Serve the risotto immediately. Garnish with some crumbled goats cheese and baby basil leaves.

Ok, I admit it. This risotto is much better than the one I made yesterday. The flavors were simple, clean and very complimentary. I could have gone without the basil though - thought it was a tad overpowering. Guess I have a low basil tolerance; but the pumpkin and goats cheese worked like a charm. The MAIN area of improvement was the texture of the rice.

Guys, this 'agitation' method of risotto-making worked a lot better for me than the stirring method.

The rice granules were separated, not stuck together and gluggy. You don't get all that starchy fluid collecting around the rice as it cooks. Each grain stays whole and intact. I also cooked it just right this time so it was slightly al dente in the center.

Close-up of the pumpkin risotto

I don't know if I imagined it but I think the risotto also cooked faster? Maybe because I used a large frying pan rather than a saucepan - the rice was spread over a larger surface area so it could absorb the stock quicker.

All in all, the MasterChef judges have earned my trust and I'm looking forward to following more of their advice.


  1. I cooked this tonight, damn it was good!!!! And everyone here ate it and liked it, even the fussy one

  2. Hi Katrina...

    Great to hear! I forgot about this recipe. Love that it's not too difficult either.