pumpkin risotto with bacon + gouda

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4 strips thick-cut bacon, diced
810 fresh sage leaves
1 large shallot, minced
1 1/4 cups U.S. grown medium grain rice
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dry white wine
6-7 cups homemade chicken broth, simmering
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup mascarpone
1 cup freshly grated 2-year aged gouda
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat a wide skillet with high sides over low heat. Add the diced bacon and cook on the lowest heat setting, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is slightly crispy and quite a bit of the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the sage leaves to the bacon fat and fry for about 90 seconds, until darker in color and crispy. Transfer them to the same plate as the bacon.

2. Add the shallots to the skillet with the bacon fat and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the shallots are softened. Add rice and stir to coat in the bacon fat so that all the grains are shiny. Toast rice for about 1 minute.

3. Add the white wine and pumpkin puree and stir into the rice. Bring to a simmer. Once the wine has been absorbed into the rice, add 1 cup of warm broth while consistently stirring. This is the key to risotto, continuous stirring which releases starch from the rice and creates creaminess. Once that broth has been absorbed, add another cup. A trick to tell when it’s time to add more broth is if the bottom of the pan is exposed when you drag your spoon across the bottom. You will continue to add broth, 1 cup at a time, while stirring until it has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is just slightly al dente, about 20-22 minutes.

4. Once rice has reached desired doneness, turn off the heat. Stir in the butter, mascarpone, and gouda cheese and continue to stir until the cheese and butter are melted and evenly dispersed. Stir the crispy bacon bits into the risotto. At this point, taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Ladle the risotto into bowls. It should have the texture of slow moving lava. Top with the fried sage. Enjoy!