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.”
|1||native sugar pumpkin (no larger than 6 inches in diameter)|
|1||tablespoon brown sugar|
|Pinch of cinnamon|
|8||ounces boneless chicken breast, diced|
|⅛||cup dried cranberries|
|1||large cipollini onion|
|½||sprig fine rosemary, chopped|
|3||leaves sage, chopped|
|1||clove garlic, shaved|
|1||tablespoon vegetable oil|
|Salt and pepper|
|2||tablespoons maple syrup|
|1||cup cooked Arborio rice|
|½||cup chicken broth|
|¼||cup heavy cream|
|1||tablespoon grated parmesan|
|½||cup 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.
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.
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