Today is Tuesday and that means once again it’s time for another monthly feature, this one featuring food and beer courtesy of Sean Z. Paxton, better know as The Homebrew Chef. Sean has been homebrewing for many years and combines his love of beer and creating lavish beer dinners running to a dozen courses. His annual dinner at the Northern California Homebrew Festival has been sold out since 2001. He writes a regular column on beer and food for Beer Advocate and Draft magazine, among much else. Each month he’ll be treating us to one of his recipes, more of which can be found at his website.
Craft Beer and Food
By Sean Z. Paxton
It’s time to celebrate! Not only was last week American Craft Beer Week, but also the first anniversary of Orange County’s The Bruery. Patrick Rue has been brewing up some unique, creative and tasty beers that steps outside the style box, while keeping one foot in. With beers like White Orchid, Black Orchid, Saison Rue and Trade Winds; tradition brewing knowledge has been overlaid with updated ingredients that make The Bruery’s beers extremely food friendly and welcome at the dining table.
By using beer, which has been infused with Thai Basil, the classic Italian combination of tomato, basil and garlic are played out in this untraditional risotto.
Four as an entrée and eight as a side dish
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ ea yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 ea leek, peeled, washed and sliced
- 2 cups pearl barley
- 750 ml Trade Winds Tripel Ale from The Bruery (can’t find this beer, substitute any high quality Belgian-style tripel, but then add a tablespoon of Thai basil)
- 3 cups stock (vegetable, chicken or seafood), sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- 12 ea sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, julienned
- 12 ea roasted garlic cloves
- ½ cup Asiago Parmesan cheese, grated fresh basil leaves (garnish) and chive blossoms (garnish)
Place a 8-12 quart dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil once the pan is hot. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the leek and cook for another 3-4 minutes or until the onion is transparent and leek is slightly wilted. Add the pearl barley and toss to coat in the remaining oil. Toast the barley for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Season with salt and deglaze the pan with 1 cup of the beer. Once the liquid is almost absorbed/evaporated add another cup. Repeat this step, one cup at a time until all the beer and stock has been used, stirring constantly. Just before adding the last addition of stock, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic. Taste the risotto: the barley should have a slight give to each grain, slightly less than al dente. Once almost all the liquid has been added and cooked into the barley, about 35 minutes, turn the heat off and cover the pan with a lid and let sit for 5 minutes. Mix in the cheese, taste again to adjust the seasonings and serve, garnishing with basil leaves and chive blossoms on top.
This risotto can be used as is or as a base for some seared sea scallops, garlic butter sautéed prawns or sliced grilled chicken breasts.