Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beer in the Kitchen: Seafood & IPA Risotto

These old Midtown houses were not designed with Floridians in mind. It's pretty cold. I'm warming up my hands with a cup of licorice tea before tackling tonight's dinner -- shiitake mushroom ragout over goat cheese-d polenta, with pear custard pie for dessert. "Do you really cook like that?" one of my friends asked at the MFM's winter market yesterday. Nope. The answer is no, I really cook mainly pasta as October bleeds into November. And then from mid-November onward, I eat the Madison Avenue diet: Fino's, Pho Hoa Binh, Kwik Check, Memphis Pizza Cafe. Lather, rinse, repeat, at least until exams are over. But they are over now, as a matter of fact, and as I'm slowly recovering and putting my house (and life) back in order, I'm feeling the cooking urge coming back. Hence the schmancy dinner. There will be posts later.

But, until then, here's a dish I made a few months ago while house-sitting for friends, one of whom happens to be a very serious (and legit) homebrewer. This risotto used his homebrew IPA, and it was super tasty. You can't really taste the beer in the finished product, but it lends a depth of flavor and somehow made the scallops and shrimp taste sweeter. Also, risotto and I are new BFFs, so you'll probably see more posts about us going shopping and gossiping about boys soon.

Seafood and IPA Risotto

4-5 sea scallops, the same of shrimp
1/2 a small red pepper (my friends get a CSA, so I know it was local... the exact provenance, however, is unknown :)
1 cup risotto rice
1 cup I(ndia) P(ale) A(le) (brewed in the bathroom; you can't get much more local than that)
6 cups of hot chicken or vegetable broth, but you might not need all of it
about a half-cup grated Parmesan cheese
butter, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley

Seed and dice the red pepper, set aside.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large heavy skillet. Dry your scallops and shrimp well and lightly salt them. Place your scallops and shrimp in opposite halves of the pan. Let the scallops sear for 4-6 minutes on either side, but move your shrimp around to keep them from overcooking. They'll be done before the scallops, so remove them, then remove the scallops when done. I cut up the seafood at this point to make the risotto a little chunky, but do what you want.

Add a little more butter and the diced red pepper to the pan and sautee until the peppers start to smell good. You want them to stay a little crunchy, though. Then add your rice and stir until it gets translucent. Cook the rice for a bit, then add your beer.

Stir the risotto until all of the beer has been absorbed by the rice. Then repeat with the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring all the while and waiting until each bath is absorbed fully. Stir stir stir; develop excellent upper arm tone. This will probably take 25-35 minutes.

After maybe 10 minutes.

After about 25 minutes.

After the last addition of broth, add back in the scallops and shrimp, and also add the cheese and a tablespoon or so of butter. Mix well. The starch should be well-developed by now and you'll have a nice, creamy risotto. Definitely have with parsley on top --- I forgot for this picture, but it adds a good herby counterpoint to the savoriness of the dish.

And have with an IPA, of course.

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