Lamb and Pumpkin Risotto

Risotto is one of those things I have a lot of trouble with when trying to eat well. At first glance, it doesn’t sound too bad – 1/4 cup of dry arborio has 160 calories, just like most other varieties of rice. But if you want risotto as a main dish, you’re going to need more than. Add in some butter, wine, cheese, and whatever your favorite mix-ins are, and those calories climb quickly. I know that if I were to go out for dinner and order a restaurant-sized portion, my self-control would go out the window and I’d be in deep trouble. So, my resort is to make my risotto at one, just once in a while, when I can control the portion and ingredients. Combining lots of intense and savory flavors can really make for quite the satisfying dish, which was my goal in creating a risotto involving two of my favorite things: lamb and pumpkin.

For this dish, I wanted to use ground lamb, but I have a lot of trouble finding it at my regular grocery store. And besides, I had some cut up pieces of boneless leg in my freezer. I decided to entertain a technique I had seen in a movie, using my food processor to grind the meat. What movie, you ask? The one that came with my appliance, of course 🙂 I was a little skeptical, but the machine did a great job at grinding the meat, producing the same texture I would expect from ground turkey or beef. And when cooked, my homemade ground lamb browned and crumbled quite nicely. I’ll certainly do this again in the future, since it allows me to control the amount of fat on the meat, unlike buying pre-ground lamb.

The lamb and pumpkin came together deliciously, sparked by the addition of fragrant rosemary, tangy pecorino romano, and a sweet balsamic reduction drizzled on the final product. I’ll admit, I was nervous about adding the balsamic flavor, but it worked so nicely with the other flavors and was the perfect finishing touch to this meal. In a word from my husband, this meal was “Amazing,” and there’s not much that can beat that! Since I’ve managed to create the perfect bowl of risotto with all my favorite flavors to cure my winter blues, it’s a no brainer that I’ll submit this one to this month’s Monthly Mingle at What’s for Lunch Honey?, where the theme of the moment is comfort food.

Lamb and Pumpkin Risotto with Rosemary and Balsamic Reduction
8 oz lamb leg, trimmed of visible fat, cubed, and ground in food processor
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
balsamic vinegar reduction*

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Cover the broth and keep warm over low heat.
In a large heavy saucepan coated with cooking spray, brown lamb over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the onion, and saute until tender, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the rice is tender and creamy, about 25 to 30 minutes total. Remove from the heat. Stir in pumpkin, cheese, and rosemary. Transfer to bowls and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction. 2 servings.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 597.1
Total Fat: 15.0 g
Cholesterol: 93.2 mg
Sodium: 1,061.6 mg
Total Carbs: 12.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g
Protein: 33.6 g

*Note: balsamic reduction can be prepared while making risotto. Simply heat the vinegar in a small saucepan or saute pan over medium heat; keep it just smoking. Remove from heat when liquid has reduced by about 1/2-2/3.

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4 Responses to “Lamb and Pumpkin Risotto”

  1. 1

    Elly — January 22, 2008 @ 2:29 pm Reply

    this looks SO comforting and delicious. Yum.

  2. 2

    Meeta — January 29, 2008 @ 2:36 pm Reply

    If this is your kind of comfy food i am coming over! i love this. Thanks!

  3. 3

    Julie U. — January 16, 2012 @ 8:25 pm Reply

    I made this tonight and doubled the recipe. We (2 adults, an 11 year old and 5 year old) and EVERY last bite. This is 5 star restaurant quality…SERIOUSLY!! My store did not have pecorin (don’t even get me started) so I substituted goat cheese. My 11 year old (who is no stranger to delicious food) said it was the best thing I have ever made. I look forward to trying more of your recipes 🙂

    • 3.1

      Cara — January 16, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

      Thanks Julie! Believe it or not, it’s always a treat for me when someone finds one of my older recipes and has such nice things to say about it! So glad you liked it 🙂

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