JAMES RIGATO, a Schoolcraft College culinary-school grad, describes his style as modern American. In his role as executive chef at The Root Restaurant in White Lake Township, he focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients with as many as possible from local sources.
> Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Butter-Poached Shrimp (Serves 4-6)
1 medium Michigan pie pumpkin or heirloom varietal
1/4 stick butter
1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, cleaned and diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon curry powder
Tiny pinch of clove
1 cup apple cider (preferably Spicer’s Fenton, Mich.)
6 cups chicken stock
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
Michigan maple syrup to taste (optional)
Halve pumpkin. Scoop out cavity, reserving seeds and discarding the rest. Rinse seeds and lightly toast in the oven with a little salt until dried and lightly browned. Set aside. Place pumpkin cut-side down on a cookie sheet lined with foil or well coated with pan spray. Roast at 375 for about 1 hour. The pumpkin will yield to a finger poke when cooked (should be nice and soft, a little color is OK). Let cool slightly and then scoop out the roasted flesh and set aside.
In a stockpot, melt the butter and sauté the onion, celery, and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the thyme and spices and cook for a minute or two to allow spices to release their aroma and the curry to cook. Add roasted pumpkin and stir well. Add apple cider and stir. Add chicken stock (feel free to hold back a cup or two of the stock until the puréeing process in order to adjust the thickness). Cook for about 20 minutes at a light simmer. Using a stick blender or household blender, purée soup to nice consistency. Taste. Add salt, pepper, and maple syrup (if desired) to taste. Ladle into however many bowls desired. Spoon the butter-poached shrimp on top of the soup. Roughly chop roasted pumpkin seeds and sprinkle on top as a garnish. Serve immediately. Soup can be chilled and reheated the next day.
3 tablespoons water
2 sticks butter, chopped
8-12 shrimp, either sliced across into “coins” (or butterflied if shrimp is really small)
*Side note: The Root uses farm-raised Michigan shrimp from The Shrimp Farm Market in Okemos; shrimpfarmmarket.com.
Put water in a small saucepan and heat. When it just boils, reduce heat and whisk in butter slowly until completely incorporated and melted. Turn heat off. (This is known as beurre monté, or melted butter.) Don’t overheat, or butter will separate. Put shrimp in butter and cook over a very low flame. The shrimp will cook very quickly and can be held in the butter and off the flame for up to 20 minutes. Spoon shrimp into the soup. Avoid getting too much butter into the soup, although a little is fine.