As part of their mission to teach their students skills applicable to daily life aside from what they learn in class, Penn has launched a new series called Quaker Kitchen. Several times per semester, Chef Zach Hankins of New College House and his team are hosting intimate chef demonstrations of recipes that are easy to make and truly delicious. Additionally, nutritionist Daniel Connolly is present to discuss the dietary components of the recipes and answer any questions about eating healthy at school or at home that you might have.
The first of this series surrounded a fall pumpkin risotto. Creamy, seasonal, and the perfect balance of savory and sweet, the recipe includes local ingredients such as sugar-pumpkin, mascarpone cheese, dried cranberries, and toasted hazelnuts.
Hankins began by sweating some leeks and garlic in a small sauté pan with vegetable oil. He then added his rice to toast in the pan before adding white wine to ensure that the flavors at the bottom of the pan were fully incorporated into the dish. After allowing the wine to fully cook off, Hankins added his stock in small increments so that the rice could absorb as much liquid as possible. This allows for a creaminess to form in the rice as though the cheese has already been added. Once the rice is fully cooked through and on the softer side, he added his cream, butter, mascarpone, and salt and pepper to taste. He saved the cranberries for last to prevent the risotto from turning pink. The risotto was then served on a bed of puree made from roasted sugar pumpkin, and topped with chopped toasted hazelnuts and a parmesan crisp. Overall, the dish was excellent.
Hankins has said that he will continue to use this risotto recipe throughout the fall in the New College House dining hall with slight variation. Make sure you are on the lookout for that shrimp scampi risotto!
For more information about Quaker Kitchen events, attend Food Week from October 16th through 20th.