Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring Cooks March: Reuben Risotto

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

Reuben Risotto

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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28 comments:

  1. omg I love it! SO creative and I love all the flavors of a reuben - perfect for St. Pat's!

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  2. That's the most intriguing risotto I've ever seen and nothing like any risotto I've ever eaten! I think I would like the flavours in this very much as I love a Reuben sandwich.

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  3. What a combination! Like Peef, I usually get an annual craving for corned beef, but unlike the Burp! Kitchen, I've never made it at home. Great job on interpretation of the Daring Cook's Challenge!

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  4. Fantastic idea indeed! I love it!

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  5. I love the idea of Reuben risotto, so perfect right now when a lot of us are making corned beef for St. Patrick's day!

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  6. The challenge pointed to the comfort food aspect of risotto: I think you've taken that to a whole new level. I'd love a bowl to curl up on the couch with...

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  7. That's so creative and appropriate. I've only made corned beef once and it was yucky and fatty.

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  8. I love how inventive this take on risotto is! Definitely a good way to use up all the leftover corned beef that everyone is guaranteed to have!

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  9. This is one of the most unique recipes I have seen for St. Patrick's Day (or leftovers). This is getting printed off and stored away in my cook book for next year! Thanks for sharing!!

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  10. Quite the seasonal dish. I was intrigued by this post because I was thinking about making a risotto dish soon recently.

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  11. Well that looks interesting. I bet my husband would love that.

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  12. What a fun idea. Reubens are one of my favorite sandwiches and I always love risotto. I'll be right over.

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  13. I'm not sure how to label the culinary fusion inherent in Reuben Risotto, but it is definitely an original. Bravo! I think I'll fire up the crock pot tomorrow and try your corned beef recipe St. Pat's Day.

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  14. I'm a huge lover of risotto, and there's no denying it's versatility. But, I would have never thought of this combo. You are brave! And I think it sounds really good. Can you believe I'm married to the only Irishman on the planet that doesn't like corned beef and cabbage?

    Your description at the end is making my mouth water.

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  15. Sounds interesting...I think I'd like it.
    ~ingrid

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  16. What an interesting take on risotto. This is one I'd definitely like to try!

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  17. I love the St. Patrick's Day twist here! The beer was a great idea too.

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  18. This looks delish and all I have to do is switch out the beer for a gluten-free version. Very easy to adapt! I'm a huge fan of creamy, rich risotto and yours looks award winning. Yes, it definitely qualifies as comfort food! Good one.
    Melissa

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  19. now that's creative! love it girl!

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  20. Beer stock!? I want to be your friend... :) Great pictures - looks like perfect comfort food.

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  21. Great idea! Very festive and fitting for St. Patrick's Day. The risotto looks amazing and creamy! I love the addition of the sauerkraut.

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  22. Peef and Lo, that does look daring, and what an international fusion--Italian risotto inspired by Ireland, with Jewish deli flair, all brought together through immersion in Big Swede stout! I was delighted to see that you were emptying a bottle from the Viking Brewing Co., pride of Dallas, WI, just up the road from our Dunn County place.

    Congratulations on another round of daring deliciousness.

    Brett

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  23. look at you, going all out! it looks phenomenal, and i think calling it a 'pretty fantastic idea' is an understatement!

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  24. What a creative recipe, thanks for sharing your creation. Kraut makes anything good I think.

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  25. Quite daring. This is a quite a first for the world of risotto! And it's a good way to use up leftovers.

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