Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Food Desert Project - Pumpkin Oatmeal Risotto

We love risotto in our house - or, as I call it "cheese rice."  A perfect wintertime dish - slightly boozy, creamy, cheesy with just a bit of texture - and you can stir pretty much anything into it and call it a meal.  Unfortunately, risotto really requires a specific type of rice that I'm sure food desert dwellers would have to order off the, it doesn't work as well with whole-grain rice (barley is another good whole-grain sub.)

As you know, I'm always looking for a way to use up that little bit of pumpkin that's left after you make pumpkin bread.  I also like to take advantage of the few whole grains that are regularly available in the food desert...I'd been researching skirlie, a savory Scottish side dish of dry-fried oatmeal...and then I thought about oatmeal risotto!  Apparently I'm not the only one who had this idea, but it works like gangbusters.  Butternut squash is a common accompaniment to risotto, and thus this recipe was born.

045 1 cup whole (NOT instant) oats
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (a good stock is really important)
1/2 cup sherry or other fortified wine divided in two equal portions.(I love amontillado for many reasons, if you can get it, it's ideal here)
1 tbsp minced dried onion
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil (approximately)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sage (or poultry seasoning - check if it includes salt)
1/4 tsp paprika or chili powder, plus more for sprinkling on top
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
Salt and pepper to taste

046 Pour the chicken stock, garlic powder, sage, minced onion, paprika and 1/4 cup of the Amontillado into a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Whisk in the pumpkin and turn down the heat to low.

049 Pour the olive oil into a hot skillet and add the oats.  Toast until the oats are fragrant and lightly caramelized (do not, I repeat NOT turn to take pictures of your saucepan at this point because the oats will burn and you will have to spend 10 minutes picking out little unattractive burnt bits.)

052 Turn the heat to medium.  Pour about 1/4 of the stock into the oats and stir until it is absorbed.

054 When you can make a track through the oats with your spatula, add more stock - continue this process three more times until all of the stock is absorbed by the oats.

057 Add the Parmesan cheese and the remaining Amontillado and remove from the heat, stirring thoroughly.

Serve with an extra sprinkle of paprika and cheese - preferably by a roaring fire, with an Amontillado aperitif!


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