Daring Cooks March: Reuben Risotto Recipe
It's dreary and drippy outside. The winter chill has subsided, but the rising temperatures, paired with the remaining snow, have given way to lingering fog. With the sun hiding behind persistent clouds, it's downright murky out there. But, it's perfect weather for one-dish comfort foods like creamy risotto. So, this month's Daring Cooks challenge was a fitting project.
Since we've made risotto before, we figured we had to find a way to bring new life to an old favorite. But how?
Fortunately, with St. Patrick's Day right around the corner, Peef was starting to get his annual craving for corned beef. And, along with that craving, he was starting to think about all the delicious dishes we'd enjoy in the aftermath of our St. Patty's Day feast. How about... a reuben risotto?
At first the idea seemed a little bit wacky. But, the more we thought about it, the more interesting it seemed -- a bit of corned beef, some saurkraut, a bit of cheese, some beer... cooked together with onions and rice in a flavorful stock . We decided to give it a try.
First, we prepared our corned beef. We used our favorite crock-pot recipe in which a corned beef brisket is cooked with carrots, onions, and celery in a delicious broth made from dark beer, tomato paste, water, browned sugar, freshly ground pepper, cloves, and lots of dill weed. In addition to making a tasty brisket, the recipe results in a plethora of deliciously unctuous corned beef stock -- just perfect for risotto. Since one of the specifications of this month's challenge was that we had to make our own stock, the idea was downright perfect.
We placed everything in the crockpot the night before we intended to make the risotto and let it cook slowly on low heat for about 12 hours.
We removed the corned beef,and then strained out the vegetables.
We were left with a richly colored corned beef stock that smelled positively fantastic.
I skimmed as much fat as I could from the surface of the broth, and placed it into a saucepan to keep it warm -- and then we prepped everything to begin the risotto.
We chopped the corned beef into bite-sized pieces.
And drained about a cup of saurkraut.
Peef grated about a cup and a half of gruyere cheese.
Then we set to work on the actual risotto. We sauteed one chopped onion in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the onion had turned transluscent, we added a cup and a half of arborio rice.
We stirred the rice to coat it with the oil and allow it to toast briefly in the hot pan. Then, we added a couple of teaspoons of whole caraway seeds. The idea here was to pull in a flavor reminiscent of the rye bread used for a reuben sandwich.
When the caraway seeds began to bloom -- giving off their incredible fragrance -- we pulled out the big guns, a bit of stout beer. The idea here is to infuse the grains of rice (and, frankly, the onions too) with some of the beer's flavor. It would offer up a subtle bitterness, a bit of sweetness, and a depth that you just wouldn't get from adding white wine. It would also complement the corned beef stock we'd be using.
We stirred the rice until the foam had subsided and the beer had absorbed fully into the grains of arborio. Then, we began adding our stock. When I make risotto, I like to set a timer for about 20 minutes right around the time I add the first ladle-full of stock. That gives me a gauge of when the risotto should be done.
We continued to add stock until there was about a cupful left in the sauce pan. At this point, the timer had gone off, and the grains of rice were still al dente. But, they had expanded to almost twice their size and were swollen with the flavor of the stock. At this point, we added the corned beef and the sauerkraut.
We also added the last of the stock. We gave everything a good stir, and then added the grated Gruyere cheese.After stirring, we noted that the risotto was quite creamy and luscious. It definitely didn't need to be finished with any additional cream or butter. So, we spooned it up into bowls.Even the smell of the risotto was intoxicating -- meaty and hearty, with the perfume of caraway seed, the sweetness of the stout, and the slightly sour overtones of the saurkraut. One bite told us that reuben risotto was a pretty fantastic idea.
Corned Beef Brisket
The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.
And don't forget to check out all the other great Daring Cooks Risotto challenges at Daring Cooks’ blogs!
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