Food & dining

Recipe: Pumpkin chicken risotto

Pumpkin chicken risotto at Tresca.
Sarah Betancourt for The Boston Globe
Pumpkin chicken risotto at Tresca.

Serves 2

Chef Rich Ansara of Tresca sautées chicken tenderloins, toasted cashews, dried cranberries, and cipollini onions over the flame of a gas stove. He adds in rosemary, sage, and shaved garlic. Ansara stirs in a creamy risotto and crunchy spinach, and pours the whole thing into a pre-roasted 6-inch pumpkin, expertly placing it in the oven for 5 minutes. Ansara has been making this dish for 15 years, and people come from across New England to Tresca in the North End during October and November to have his seasonal pumpkin chicken risotto. Tresca is selling more than 150 of these filling concoctions a week, and had more than 1,000 orders last year. Ansara and Tresca manager Jennifer Bacon shared the recipe for folks who want to give the dish a shot at home. Ansara’s main recommendation — “the younger the pumpkin, the more flavorful it is. Then they get too big, they get mealy, so 5 to 6 inches in diameter is best.”

1native sugar pumpkin (no larger than 6 inches in diameter)
2tablespoons butter
1tablespoon brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
8ounces boneless chicken breast, diced
cup dried cranberries
10roasted cashews
1large cipollini onion
½sprig fine rosemary, chopped
3leaves sage, chopped
1clove garlic, shaved
1tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
2tablespoons maple syrup
1cup cooked Arborio rice
½ cup chicken broth
¼cup heavy cream
1tablespoon grated parmesan
½cup baby spinach
¼ cup shredded cheddar jack

1. Slice the top off the pumpkin and remove all seeds and pulp. Melt the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

2. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

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3. Brush the inside of pumpkin with the butter mixture, wrap in aluminum foil and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the inside of the pumpkin is fully cooked.

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4. In a sauté pan, combine chicken, cranberries, cashews, onion, rosemary, sage, garlic, vegetable oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté at medium heat until all flavors are incorporated. Add maple syrup and cook for 1 more minute. Add Arborio rice, chicken broth, cream, parmesan cheese, and baby spinach. Cook for an additional 2 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

5. Add hot risotto mixture to cooked pumpkin, top with shredded cheddar jack and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Adapted from Rich Ansara