Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Use 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to brush on the cut sides of the pumpkin and on the foil. Place the pumpkin cut-side down on the foil. Roast until a skewer inserted in the pumpkin meets no resistance, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven and turn cut-side up. When cool enough to handle, scrape the pumpkin from the skin and reserve.
Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to keep the broth warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook until very soft and translucent, about 9 minutes. Add the middlins and cook, stirring frequently, until the edges of the grains are transparent, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add warm broth, ½ cup at a time, and cook at a faint simmer, stirring frequently. Continue adding broth as it is absorbed, stirring all the while, until the middlins are softened through and creamy, about 20 minutes.
Add the cooked pumpkin to the risotto and stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the risotto onto a baking sheet and let cool completely in the refrigerator.
Heat the honey and sage leaves together over low heat. Set aside.
Set up a standard breading procedure with three shallow bowls or pie plates: flour, beaten eggs, panko. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out 3 ounces of risotto, press indentation with thumb, fill with goat cheese then press risotto over the goat cheese to cover. Form into a patty, dust with flour, dip in beaten eggs, and roll in panko. Set risotto cakes on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat process until all risotto is used.
Chill the cakes at least 30 minutes. Pan-fry the cakes in a ¼ inch of vegetable oil over high to medium high heat until golden brown on both sides. Do not over crowd the pan.
For the honey sauce, remove the sage leaves and whisk in the lemon juice. Drizzle over the risotto cakes or serve as a dipping sauce.
The risotto cakes can be made ahead of time and reheated in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
This recipe was inspired by delicious butternut squash risotto cakes made by Liz Grenamyer, owner of Catering by Liz in Jacksonville’s Riverside neighborhood. For the risotto, middlins from Congaree and Penn Farm & Mills, a North Jacksonville rice farm, were used.