When the theme of the most recent food bloggers' potluck was announced - cooking with beer - I'll admit I was a little skeptical. I had no clue whatsoever what I could make - I was a late bloomer as far as liking beer was concerned, and have never cooked with it before.
I surfed around online a bit seeking inspiration, and all the recipes I was finding just seemed too boring and/or predictable. Then I found this recipe from "My Husband Cooks" for lobster and beer risoto. Instant inspiration.
I ended up fiddling with it just a teeny bit (as usual). First of all, Central Market - where I showed up to buy ingredients for the first time three hours before the potluck was to begin - was out of lobster. I thought I'd use crawfish, but their frozen crawfish tails were $24.99 a pound (for FROZEN crawfish tails! Quelle horreur!) and I thought I needed about two pounds of whatever I was using since I was doubling the recipe, so that just wouldn't do. However, they did have never-frozen Gulf shrimp on sale for an amazing $5.99/lb, so I decided to use shrimp, instead.
Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it, along with some photos of the results (I doubled this recipe for the potluck, and there was a TON of it).
Shrimp & Beer Risotto
* 1 lb shrimp - peeled and de-veined
* 2 cups Arborio rice (original recipe suggests Vialone Nano rice as an alternative)
* 2 cups seafood or chicken stock (warm or at least room temperature)(original recipe called for 3 cups; I only ended up needing 2 cups per batch. Also, the original recipe says you can use water instead of stock, but I really think the stock helps balance the beer flavor out.)
* 12 oz. pilsner or hefeweizen (wheat) beer (preferably warm)(I used Shiner hefeweizen)
* 1 stick salted butter
* 1 large yellow onion (diced)
* 4 cloves garlic (minced)
* 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
* 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley (chopped)
* 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon thyme (chopped)
* 2 Tbsp. fresh marjoram (chopped)
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1 Tbsp. honey
* fresh cracked pepper
1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, then add the shrimp and sautée until they are cooked. Take care not to overcook them, as they will get a little more time on the heat later on with the rice.
2 . In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onions. Let cook for a few minutes and then add the garlic. Continue to cook for another few minutes until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the rice to the mixture and begin to let the rice toast. You want it to absorb all of the butter; continue to stir regularly for a few minutes, until the rice is lightly toasted throughout.
4. Add the beer and stir. Continue to stir occasionally until all the beer is absorbed and the rice begins to feel dry. If your beer is cold, you will want to turn up the temperature of the stove briefly to bring the temperature back up on both the rice and the beer.
5. Once the beer has been absorbed, add a cup of broth. Stir regularly until the rice has absorbed the broth, then add another cup of broth, the shrimp, and the herbs. As needed, you can add additional broth until the risotto is done. The goal is to get the rice soft, cooked, and slightly al dente - but not crunchy. It could take as much as 3 cups, but really it’s best if you use your judgment. You need to taste it regularly.
6. Once the risotto has reached the right consistency, add the parmesan and honey. Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. Turn off the heat. Cover and let rest for about 3-5 min. Serve while still hot.
The original recipe estimated the time required to make this at 45 minutes. However, this probably took me closer to 1.5 hours - and I had help peeling and de-veining the shrimp. I am a little slow in the kitchen, but not that slow; it just took a while for the rice to cook on medium heat.
I really loved the way this turned out - very rich and complex, comforting and delicious. The beer and the honey add some interesting notes (subtlely so) that you wouldn't normally expect. I got a lot of compliments on this dish - which made me particularly happy (and relieved) since I didn't have time to test the recipe before making it for the potluck!