Last weekend I ran a race called Paine to Pain. It is a 1/2 marathon through the trails of lower Westchester starting at Thomas Paine Cottage in New Rochelle. 90% of the trail is made up of dirt, rocks and mud, which is the fun part. The run is suitably named because after conquering 13 miles of trail most runners will be feeling some sort of hurt. That being said getting to the finish is equal parts pain and euphoria.
The conditions on race day were pretty good this year, overcast and cool, which is perfect running weather. The only downside was a run-in with a hornet’s nest around the 3-mile mark. I got a bite right on the butt, and let me tell you it hurt. I lost a full two minutes at the medic station where I had to drop my drawers for some salve.
In the months leading up to the race I have eaten my fair share of pasta. By the time race week rolled around the last thing I wanted was another bowl of spaghetti with marinara. But since I still needed to get in my carbs I decided to try something a little different.
In the past I have stayed away from risotto because it just takes too much time. But the thought of more rigatoni was enough to get me to try it. I tried to prep everything before the boys were home from school so it was set and ready to go. Looking back it was not the best laid plan since we still had to deal with homework and showers.
So it kind of went like this… heat a skillet and cook down the onions and garlic, run to read Matthew his homework assignment, stir in rice and stock, run to check homework, stir some more, run to start shower, stir in some more stock, shower a kid, stir some more, dress a kid, stir, shower the next one in line, add more stock, stir some more, dress a kid, stir, shower last kid, stir, dress last kid, stir, ask someone to set table, stir some more, ask again for someone to set the table, stir, yell at someone to set the table, stir some more, scream “dinner is finally ready!”, stir one last time and finally get it on the table.
Talk about a marathon – I don’t know which was harder, running the race or making this risotto!
Pumpkin Risotto w/Crispy Pancetta
3 slices of pancetta
4 cups of chicken broth
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pumpkin puree, we used canned
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pancetta on a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 10-12 minutes until it gets crispy. Set aside and let cool.
Heat chicken broth in a saucepan to a simmer and then keep covered so it does not evaporate. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium high and add onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are soft, then add rice and stir to make sure rice is coated with oil.
Add in the wine and cook until it is evaporated. Then add 1 cup of the hot broth. Cook until liquid is evaporated, stirring often. Repeat, adding 1 cup of broth at a time until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender and chewy.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the pumpkin and cheese, cook for another minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into bowl and crumble pancetta on top. Serve immediately.
And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “It’s not what I thought…”
Liam (age 4): “EEWWW – gross”
Dylan (age 4): “Is this mac and cheese pie?”
Obviously, not a personal best…