Here’s something seasonal from Christchurch-based author Tony Smith’s cookbook,
A River Rules My Kitchen.
Duck and roasted pumpkin risotto
1 cup (300g) Arborio rice
400g pumpkin, cut into 1 cm dice
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, extra
1/2 medium-sized red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 leek, diced
1 cup white wine
1 litre white chicken stock (water and 1 teaspoon stock powder is fine)
1 teaspoon freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
2 cooked duck breasts, shredded or diced
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons grated pecorino or parmesan, plus additional to serve
1 cup chopped chervil or parsley
Risotto is ideal for game birds and an excellent way to make a really top quality dish. Be sure to purchase good quality Arborio rice for this ;poor quality rice tends to cook to a very soft consistency and will be disappointing.
There are some very good New Zealand cheeses suited for risotto: Whitestone’s Twin Island Stream and Gruff Junction’s goat’s cheddar are great substitutes for the pecorino or parmesan. When it comes to parmesan, genuine Italian is still the best.
All the following tasks can be completed ahead of time, and the dish can be put together in around 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Toss the pumpkin in olive oil and roast for about 10 minutes. Keep just a little undercooked or firm when tested. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Put the rice and extra oil into a solid pan and place on a low heat. Stir continually until the rice is well coated, has just a slight hint of colour and is exuding a popcorn aroma. (Patience at this stage will make the difference between a good and excellent risotto.)
Add the vegetables and continue to stir for a minute or two. Add the wine, simmer for a couple of minutes, then add half the stock. Simmer at a gentle boil until the rice has absorbed the stock, then add the remainder. Season at this stage with salt and pepper. Test the rice: it should start getting tender.
When you feel the rice is about 5 minutes away, add the pumpkin and tomatoes. When you are about to serve, stir in the cheese and check the final seasoning. Serve onto large bowls and sprinkle over the herbs and additional cheese.
By Tony Smith
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand