From Jason Miller, Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market Corporate Executive Chef
As a corporate chef for a gourmet food market, Chef Jason Miller plans ahead for every season, putting new twists on customer favorites and trying out new recipes.
And this holiday season is no different, except that it marks the 100th Anniversary of this venerable powerhouse for gourmands. What started in 1916 as a green grocer and produce stand run by "Pop" Balducci, became the first company in New York City to sell premium quality foods with a butcher, deli, fishmonger and greengrocer all in the same store. That first Balducci’s Market created the modern standard of the gourmet market.
Now an epicurean standard for home cooks and food lovers, Balducci’s has with 3 local stores in Maryland and Virginia. The team at Balducci’s is proud to have retained their reputation for excellence and a passion for creating great food and great flavors for their customers.
As delicious as delightful in presentation, pumpkin risotto served in mini pumpkins can be the centerpiece of any holiday gathering. In a rush and no time to cook? No problem. These mini pumpkins can be picked up at the prepared foods counter at any area Balducci’s in McLean, Old Town or Bethesda. Chef Jason suggests pairing this dish with Balducci’s Private Label Chardonnay.
- 8 mini sugar pumpkins
- 1 ¾ cup Arborio rice
- 1 quart chicken stock
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup white onion, small dice
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 ½ cup pumpkin, pureed
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup fresh sage leaves
- Dash of cinnamon
- Salt & pepper to taste
Roast the pumpkins by placing on a sheet tray that has been oiled. Place them in a 350˚ oven until just tender when pierced with a knife. (Don’t overcook or they will fall apart.) Remove from the oven and cool until they can be handled.
Take each pumpkin and run a paring knife around the top with the stem to create a “hat”. Trim the hat of seeds and clean out the seeds from inside of the pumpkin. Season the interior of the pumpkin shell with salt, pepper and a dash of cinnamon. Set aside.
To make the risotto, bring the stock to simmer and hold it at a low simmer while making the risotto.
Mince the garlic and sage. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and coast the rice with the oil and onion mixture. Toast over the heat for 1-2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with wine. Stir well to coat the rice and simmer until the liquid is nearly absorbed by the rice. Add the sage and a few ladles of the stock. Stir constantly until the tock in nearly absorbed. Add a few more ladles of stock at a time until the rice is nearly cooked al dente.
Add the pumpkin puree to he rice. Bring back to a simmer to season to tast with salt and pepper. Spread risotto on sheet pans to cook. Once cool, fill the pumpkin cavities with risotto. Each pumpkin holds about ¾ cup of risotto. Place pumpkin hat on top of the risotto. Once pumpkins are filled, either reheat for serving in a 350˚ oven, or refrigerate.