Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon & Parmesan

The most delicious, seasonal pumpkin risotto – full of fresh thyme, white wine, a little butter, honey for some sweetness, lots of parmesan cheese, and topped with crispy bacon & black pepper. It is the perfect side dish for any meal this time of year!

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

pumpkin risotto – the details

The pumpkin risotto starts off by rendering diced bacon slowly until crisp. A quick trick to make dicing raw bacon easier is to throw it in the freezer for 45 minutes or so to firm up. It’ll cut much, much more easily. Once the bacon is crisp, some onion gets cooked in the hot bacon fat.

Fresh thyme gets thrown into the pot, and then the arborio rice goes in. I like to toast the rice for a minute or so before starting the liquid-addition process. If you’ve never made risotto, the process involves slowly adding liquid to the rice and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid and expand as you stir.

It’s a simple process but takes a little bit of time to stir (trust me, it’s pretty relaxing though). You’ll want to make sure to heat the stock first so you’re not adding cold liquid to the pot and slowing the process down.

Pumpkin Risotto

Pumpkin Risotto

To make this risotto special and perfectly seasonal, we’re adding in a little pumpkin puree! I like to whisk the pumpkin into the hot stock before ladling it into the soup for the most even incorporation.

I initially made this by roasting fresh pumpkin, blending it up into a homemade puree, and using that for the risotto. While you can absolutely do this (I have a roasted pumpkin process in this pumpkin soup recipe), I found myself wanting to make this risotto on a weeknight and dreading cutting up a whole pumpkin. I just wanted to get right to the risotto and have dinner done in 30 minutes or so. So…I tried it with store-bought pumpkin puree and honestly it was JUST as good.

Probably due to the final finishing touches – a little butter, some honey for a subtle sweetness, and lots of grated parmesan cheese for a salty, nutty bite. All of these ingredients, plus the crispy bacon on top, makes for truly the most delicious risotto!

My suggestion? Swap out the whipped potatoes in this braised short rib dish and serve the meat over this pumpkin risotto instead. The BEST combination.

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Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon & Parmesan

Pumpkin Risotto

creamy pumpkin risotto with crispy bacon, white wine, fresh thyme, a drizzle of honey, and lots of parmesan cheese 

servings: 4

Ingredients

Scale
  • ½ lb bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 qt stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Add the bacon to a 5-6qt Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pot) in an even layer over medium-low heat. Slowly render until crisp, about 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. 
  2. Add the diced onion to the hot bacon fat. Saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the sprigs of thyme, a pinch of salt, and a few cracks of freshly cracked black pepper. Stir in the arborio rice. Allow to toast for a minute or so. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until just barely simmering. Whisk in the pumpkin puree. Keep the liquid warm over low heat.
  4. Add the white wine to the rice pot. Use a wooden spoon to stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Start to ladle the heated stock into the pot, one ladle (or about a ½ cup measurement) at a time, stirring after each addition until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue until you’ve added all of the liquid. This process should take about 20-25 minutes or so.
  5. Remove the sprigs of thyme. Stir in the butter, honey, and a ½ cup of the parmesan cheese. Once the butter and cheese have melted, serve the risotto immediately. Garnish with the crispy bacon, remaining ¼ cup of parmesan, and more black pepper.

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Pumpkin Risotto

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