When you're in the mood for comfort food, as I was the other day, there are few preparations more comforting than risotto. It's easily personalized (I like mine thick, with mushrooms and heavy on the butter), fairly effortless to make and equally conducive to both communal and solitary dining -- the latter of which I was very much looking forward to, in the company of a good ale of course. I had a bottle of White from Funkwerks, a new and adventurous brewery in Fort Collins specializing in Belgian farmhouse ales, and figured it would pair well with the risotto. And since I had the kitchen to myself, I decided to experiment a bit by using some of the beer itself in the dish.
The risotto turned out to be lovely, perfect for kicking back on the couch and watching football. I happened to share this sentiment with a friend and fellow sports enthusiast the next day, however, and was thoroughly reamed for it. He argued that risotto lacked the masculinity and compact convenience requisite of good sports grub and noted such examples as wings and, uh, chips. I couldn't disagree more. For me, nothing is more manly than cooking. Paying someone else to do it is much more of a nuisance than doing it yourself. But I digress.
Cooking the risotto with the beer was actually a pretty good move if I do say so myself. The spicy, slightly funky Belgian brew was a welcome flavor profile, and made the pairing that much more satisfying. It's a bottle-conditioned beer, meaning it gets its carbonation naturally from the unfiltered and active yeast. This usually results in a higher carb level, which in this case pleasantly accentuated the fruity and tangy notes in the beer and made for a nice contrast to the creamy, buttery and subtly funky risotto.
Here's the recipe: 1 stick of unsalted butter 1 medium onion, diced 2 cups of Arborio rice (I've tried and subsequently failed with other rice types) 1/2 cup of White ale 3 1/2 cups chicken broth 1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. In a medium size pot, heat broth over low heat. 2. In a large skillet, heat 1/2 stick butter, add onions and sauté until soft and translucent. 3. Add rice and stir until rice is toasted and opaque, 3-4 minutes. 4. Add beer, and then add one ladle of broth, stirring until fully absorbed. 5. Continue adding broth one ladle at a time, waiting for each to be fully absorbed by the rice before adding another. 6. Before adding the last ladle, add mushrooms. 7. Cook until rice is creamy and al dente, about 15 minutes. 8. Add 1/2 stick of butter and cheese and mix well.