It's not secret that The Kid loves him some risotto and we have had a tough few weeks so I thought he deserved a nice, big bowl of something he loves. I still want to make a risotto with sparkling wine and seared scallops but that would have meant a major shopping trip, which was not in the cards.
What I did have on hand was beer and I see no reason to believe that beer wouldn't make a fine risotto. After some googling, it was clear that many people have had the same idea and used beer with great success Add in some really thin, young asparagus, pancetta and some huge spring onions from Texas and we were on our way. I used Stiegl Goldbrau and to be honest, it didn't taste all that different with beer replacing the wine - perhaps a bit less acidic and more mellow and smooth- but it was certainly tasty and it's nice to know that I can still make risotto even when I am out of white wine.
Beer Risotto with Asparagus
3 cups chicken stock
2 tbls chopped pancetta
3 tbls butter
1 tbls olive oil
2 large spring onions, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
2 cups arborio rice
1.5 cups beer
1 bunch very thin asparagus
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
I like to put any vegetable scraps in my pot of stock, bring it to a boil and then turn it down until it is just barely simmering and let it steep while I get the rest of my ingredients ready. In this case, that meant the rough ends of the asparagus and any bits of spring onion that I would normally discard.
So, with the pot of stock sitting on the back burner, melt 2 tbls butter and 1 tbls olive oil in a large, deep pan (large enough to accommodate double the volume of rice at least). Add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes until it just starts to crisp before you add the spring onions and garlic. Stir that around for a couple of minutes and then add the rice. Cook the rice, stirring constantly, until it turns opaque, about 2-3 more minutes. Now, add the beer and stir and stir, in a figure 8, until the liquid is almost all absorbed.
At this point, you start ladling in the stock. With each addition, you keep stirring the rice, over med to med low heat until the stock is absorbed. Then you add the next ladle of stock. After about 10 minutes, add in the chopped, thin asparagus and the peppers (if your asparagus is not very, very thin and young, you can add it after about five minutes instead). Keep this addition of stock and stirring up until you have cooked the rice for about 20 minutes. The rice should be a bit al dente but not hard. It will have a nice creamy consistency - it it's still really soupy, keep stirring and cooking until it thickens up a bit.
Now, you take it off the heat, add the last tablespoon of butter and the grated parmesan and stir it in more vigorously until it's totally incorporated.