Like most of us in the states, my cultural heritage is mixed. I’ve got Italian from my dad, and Irish (and a bunch of other things) from Mom. So what better way to celebrate St. Patricks day than to mix the two together.
I took risotto, a very Italian dish, made it green, and added beer. The green comes from a peppery bite of baby arugula, with a dollop of basil pesto from the freezer. If you don’t have any pesto don’t fret – some chopped fresh herbs will make a delicious substitution. Use a light colored beer, like a Blue Moon or Hoegaarten, so preserve the color of the rice. Serve hot, with the rest of the 6-pack to wash it down!
1 T. butter
2 shallots, finely minced
2-3 garlic, minced
1 c. risotto rice (like arborio or carnaroli)
1 c. light colored beer
3 or more c. water or stock
2 T. pesto, or chopped fresh herbs
a few large handfuls of arugula, finely chopped
1-2 T. creme fraiche, sour cream, or cold butter
sea salt to taste
garnish with toasted pine nuts (or almonds) and a shaving of parmesan
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pot or skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallots for a few minutes, then add the garlic and a few pinches of salt. Once the shallots become soft, stir in the rice to coat in butter. Let this cook, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until the rice becomes translucent around the edges.
Pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen anything stuck to the bottom. Simmer until most of the beer is gone, and you can drag a wooden spoon through the rice and the liquid doesn’t fill in the trail. You may have to play with the heat to keep it softly simmering, but not boiling – you don’t want too much liquid to evaporate.
Once the beer is mostly gone, add water or stock, a 1/2 c. at a time, stirring frequently and waiting until the last bit has simmered away before adding the next bit. When the rice is almost done, but still firm and a tiny bit chalky when you bite into it, stir in the pesto. If you’re using fresh herbs wait – and stir them in with the arugula.
About 20 minutes and 3 – 4 cups of liquid later, your rice should be done. It should be tender, but still a little firm to the bite. Remove from heat and stir in the creme fraiche and arugula until the greens wilt. Taste and add salt if necessary, enough to make the flavors pop. This will vary depending on whether you used water or stock, and pesto or herbs. Serve topped with the parmesan and pine nuts.
serves 3-4 as a main, 6 as a side