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Beer & Mushroom Risotto

31 July 2012

Risotto has always been a favorite of mine.  It’s a creamy, savory, stick-to-your-ribs meal that, like pizza, you can make with virtually any topping and it will still be good.  The one constant, though, is that we’ve always had to buy wine to cook it with and, for me, wine can sometimes go to waste.  But I have to fear that no longer, as my wife came up with an amazing risotto recipe that not only uses some of my favorite ingredients (I’m looking at you, wild mushrooms), but also substitutes the wine for Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace.

Ingredients:

1 ½ oz shredded parmesan
1 ½ C Arborio rice
7-8 ramps, white part finely chopped*
10-12oz wild mushrooms (we used cremini, oyster & shitake)
4C vegetable stock
1 ½ C Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
2T butter (divided)
Lemon zest
Salt & pepper

*Since the five-week window in which you can find ramps is over, you can substitute garlic and shallots.

Method:

Make sure your vegetable stock is kept warm—just below a simmer—on a separate burner.

Melt 1T butter over medium heat in sauce pan and add the mushrooms, sautéing until cooked and stirring occasionally for the first three minutes. Turn heat up to medium high for two more minutes.

Remove mushrooms before they brown and return the heat to medium.

Melt 1T butter over medium low heat and sauté the ramps for about three minutes. Pour in rice and mix it around to coat it with ramps and butter.  Stir until rice smells nutty, but is not yet toasted – about two minutes. Add the beer and stir frequently until almost all liquid has been soaked up by the rice. When the liquid is almost gone, add vegetable stock ½ C at a time until rice is done (about 45 minutes), stirring repeatedly.

Stir in cooked mushrooms and parmesan and add salt and pepper to taste.  Finish with lemon zest.

Since we know risotto is a little more labor-intensive than what we’ve laid out, here is a step-by-step, in-depth guide to risotto technique.

We were most worried that the beer wouldn’t make a difference—it would cook off by the time we were ready to eat, or it would be overwhelmed by the intense flavors of the wild mushrooms and ramps.  Luckily, we were wrong and the beer came through just fine.  It added a nice brightness from the lemon flavor as well as a great funkiness you get from most farmhouse ales that paired perfectly with the earthy mushrooms.  This is a great dish for the spring or fall, when the smell outside is damp grass or freshly fallen leaves.  Pair this with the Sorachi Ace itself (you’ll have plenty left over) and enjoy.

Note: This recipe was developed and prepared by my lovely wife LeeAnne.

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