Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winter Risotto with Sweet Potato, Brussels Sprouts, and Blue Cheese


1 large sweet potato, cubed small
10 oz. Brussels sprouts, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
6 oz. Danish blue cheese, crumbled
2/3 cup Arborio, Carnaroli, or other risotto rice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Approx. 2 cups chicken stock, more if needed
Salt and pepper
Bear Republic Brewing Co. Hop Rod Rye

1) Heat olive oil in a medium pot. Sweat shallot, carrot and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2) Add sweet potato and rice to the pot and toast for 2-3 minutes until rice is slightly translucent.
3) Add chopped rosemary and half a cup of chicken stock and stir constantly until the stock is absorbed.
4) Continue to add stock, half a cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more when the liquid is nearly absorbed into the rice. It should take approx. 13-15 minutes for the rice to be cooked as the liquid is incorporated; if more liquid is needed, add more stock or water.
5) When the rice and sweet potato are nearly cooked (after about 10 minutes), add the chopped Brussels sprouts.
6) When rice is tender but still slightly firm in the center, add blue cheese and season to taste. After the cheese has melted in, spoon into bowls.
7) Open Hop Rod Rye.
8) Enjoy together.

Oh, yum. Caraway and dark, sticky notes from the 20% rye used in the malt, a very well-balanced caramel sweetness against bitter orange rind hops, and a hint of fresh bread yeast. Bear Republic is in Healdsburg, California, and damn do they ever make a fine beer. If you're a fan of the rye IPA style (and when it's well done, it's one of our favorite beers of all time), this brew gets it exactly right. There's a reason this beer has won major gold and silver medals in festivals and competitions. Pairing a rye IPA (especially one of this magnitude and bittersweetness) with ANYTHING to do with blue cheese is a very, very good idea.

You know what? Risotto is Italian comfort food, and comfort food is what's needed when the weather turns all crispy, and the leaves begin to fall, and you start grabbing a pashmina on your way out the door. No adventure here, kids. Predictably delicious, toothy, wholesome, and all around good. I (Lyndsay) used to work at a great Italian place called Osteria Laguna, and that's where I learned of the glories of risotto. Our chef Christina (an eighty-pound Venetian with a Rambo-style hair kerchief) made glorious risotto--beet and gorgonzola risotto, smoked mozzarella risotto, shellfish and tomato risotto, and it was always giddily perfect. The woman makes freaking beautiful food. I can't cook risotto like she can (I also can't yell nearly as loudly or project her levels of utter scorn), and so I salute her! She lives in Berkeley now with her wife and baby, but here she is posing like a rock star by our pizza oven and antipasto bar.

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