pumpkin prosciutto sage risotto

Today I woke thinking this: in a full heart, there’s room for anything. I’d seen this scrawled in chalk on the side of a building, and I remember wanting to photograph it but didn’t. Because it seems as if when I share something with the world it’s suddenly less mine, and for that moment I wanted to hold on to those words, incant them like prayer and privately go about my day. And so it goes.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the things we carry. The weight of who we are and the desire to show other people what we could be. And the expectations are like bricks in a briefcase, and at one point we won’t be able to bear the weight of all those voices, when it is your heart that should be the loudest, beating sound. We sometimes place weight in the wrong things. So I invite you (as I constantly find I need to remind myself) to take inventory. Can you unload the briefcase? How full is your heart?

I can’t believe how much I’ve changed since I returned from Paris. I thought it was a momentary lapse in reason, but it’s more than that. It’s a gnawing voice that reminds me that my heart isn’t full yet because I’ve got so many damn bricks in the briefcase. So start unloading.

If someone told me last year that I’d pick a lens over a handbag, I’d say they were mad, but the only purchase I’ve made on “buy-iatus” (translation: buying hiatus) is a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. Unlike my 2.5 macro, this lens affords me the depth of field, the speed, markedly reduced fringe colors, and the clarity that my previous lens lacked. This lens shoots indoors beautiful and practically devours light. And you better believe I couldn’t wait to get home and start road-testing it in my home. The shots you see here are with the new lens, which brings a softness and a depth to my photos that my macro missed. However, mind you, I’m still battling white balance issues.

And what better dish to feature than risotto? In all candor, I can make risotto in my sleep — it’s THAT simple. A few simple ingredients and patience for a dish that is pure satin. In today’s version I used up the last of my prosciutto, pulled some frozen sage leaves out of the freezer and tossed in my leftover pumpkin. Enjoy, enjoy!

1 qt low-sodium, organic/local chicken stock*
1 cup of arborio rice
2-3 oz prosciutto, sliced in 1-inch bites
3 tbsp of pumpkin puree
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 shallot, fine dice
1/4 tsp sea salt; 1/4 tsp pepper

*1 quart is the equivalent of 32oz or 2 lbs

In a large sauce pot, bring the stock to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Keep this pot next to our sauté pan, as you’ll need to continuously ladle from the stock to the skillet, so proximity is pretty key.

In a large sauté pan (translation: a skillet that can hold 3-4 quarts), sauté the shallots and salt on medium heat until translucent (1-2 minutes). Add in the sage and stir for another 30 seconds. Pour in the rice and cook until the rice is translucent and browns slightly, approximately 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. You do not want burned onions or rice, so if this starts to happen ladle in liquid immediately. Do you want to sob over burnt risotto? My guess is NO WAY, NO DAY.

Add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir, and stir, and stir, until all of the liquid is absorbed. Keep ladling in the liquid in increments until all of the water is absorbed and the stock is thick and creamy. Remember, risotto isn’t a dish that will cook itself, it requires dedication, so be prepared to stand in front of the stove stirring for 20-30 minutes. I’ve been blasting Interpol and old-school U2 in these sorts of parallel parking scenarios.

In a small skillet, brown the diced prosciutto until it’s well done (1-3 minutes). I like my bacon slightly charred, but to each her own.

Once all of the water has been absorbed, stir in the pumpkin, pancetta, and pepper until the risotto transforms into a satiny orange. Mix for a good minute serve pipping hot.


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