In our household Thanksgiving food is rich with our season's final harvest. This year's surprises are our ongoing flush of shiitake mushrooms (still flushing even today!) and pumpkins. With the help of our friends, we inoculated over 100 logs 2 years ago and stored them in the greenhouse through the winter. We collected them a few months later, only to find them overheated, dry and hopeless, thinking that we had burned all of our fruit! For the love of experimentation, we allowed another year for them to rest outdoors et Voila! We are experiencing the biggest shiitake harvest of our lives:)
In addition, we have attempted growing pumpkins in our gardens for around 7 years and have only carried them to flowering. Around the time that the flowers come on, the vines just suddenly keel over and die. We assumed there was a fungus in the soil or perhaps a borer that secretly came in the night to claim our crop. Knowing that we must try every possible solution, we tried again this season.
Well Hallelujah, this fall we finally got pumpkins! And you know what the trick was? A child planted them:) And so, we have been making the most exquisite pumpkin dishes around the clock to make up for the 7 years of bad luck. One of which has become our absolute favorites of the year, Pumpkin & Shiitake Risotto, honoring the mantra "Persistence Pays!" May you take this practice into your own gardening experiences and please try this easy to make Southern French/Italian deliciousness for Thanksgiving, or anytime. Bon Appetit!
Thanks For Giving Pumpkin & Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
2 tablespoons coconut oil, butter, or leftover rendered fat/oil from cooking the turkey 1/2 shallot or 1/4 small red onion, finely diced, 1 whole garlic bulb 2 cups roughly chopped fresh shiitake mushrooms
½ Jack o’Lantern or Pie Pumpkin 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves Salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional) 2 cups (1 pound) white arborio rice 4 to 5 cups stock- I used homemade turkey broth from last year’s seasoned Thanksgiving turkey OR veggie broth, chicken beef broth, Freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, to serve
1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut the pumpkin in half, scrape out the seeds and place face down on a cooking stone or pan. Clean, salt and bake the seeds while you’re at it. Bake the pumpkin for 30 min. or until a fork can easily penetrate the outer shell. Remove from oven and allow to cool down enough to comfortably cut the flesh into grid-like pattern, eventually separating from the shell and scooping out cubes of pumpkin. Continue on to step 5.
2. While the pumpkin is cooking, in a large pot, heat the butter/oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion/shallot and garlic in the butter for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the rice and stir to coat evenly with the butter/oil. Sauté for several minutes, or until the rice begins to turn translucent.
3. In a smaller separate pot, add oil and gently sauté the fresh mushrooms. If you are an allium junky like we are, feel free to add more onion and garlic. Cook for several minutes without stirring, then flip them over and cook until nicely browned. Stir in the thyme leaves and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
4. Add 1 cup at a time of broth to the mushrooms. Bring to a boil, while stirring, for a few minutes, allowing for the shiitake juices to infiltrate the broth. Add the liquid, (straining the mushrooms and leaving them in the smaller pot) 1 cup at a time to the rice. Continue adding liquid and stirring until the rice is cooked to al dente, cooked-through completely but still with a bit of a bite, to your liking. Rice should be a creamy consistency.
5. Once the broth is fully transferred to the rice, add the mushrooms and baked/cubed pumpkin to the risotto.
Taste and season if necessary with additional salt and pepper.
Serve with grated Parmesan on top.
Pair with Pinot Noir, lightly oaked Chardonnay or Pinot Gris. Full bodied and earthy toned wines taste the best with this dish.