One of my favorite things about being in the at least intermediate cooking category is that I feel confident and capable of coming up with my own recipes on occasion. Thinking about flavor combinations that would go well together, or re-interpreting a recipe to fit my tastes more is just exciting. What’s even more exciting is executing the recipe and having it taste even better than you anticipated. Having other people excited to taste the results is what makes me love cooking. Sharing food = gaining love.

The idea for beer cheese risotto came about when I was looking through Moosewood’s Simple Suppers the other week and I bookmarked a recipe called Rarebit Risotto. It is basically beer cheese risotto, but with broccoli and tomato bits in a sea of cheesy beer rice. It didn’t appeal. I thought about how I could modify it based on my well-loved beer cheese soup recipe that will bring anyone that I’ve ever lived with come running for a bowl of it hot off of the stove. I wrote, tested, tweaked, and have no more left of the recipe. I made it approximately 24 hours ago. This recipe is a bi-winner. It wins over here and then it wins OVER THERE! TIGER BLOOD!

This recipe is man approved. Ready for it yet? Ok, here’s the breakdown:

Veggie Packed Beer Cheese Risotto

  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 12 oz beer (I use Newcastle)
  • 3 cups mirepoix finely diced (1 cup each of onion, carrot, and celery)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic, or be lazy like me and use a shake of garlic powder
  • 2 T Dijon mustard*
  • 3 cups loosely packed sharp Cheddar
  • 1 t salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • parsley and cayenne pepper for garnish (optional)

These are the stars of the recipe. *I used Lusty Monk’s Burn In Hell Chipolte mustard, a gift from a coworker. YUM. Use any spicy Dijon though but those Lusty Monks make an amazing condiment.

In a smaller saucepan gently heat the broth and leave at low. In the meantime, chop up those vegetables for mirepoix.

Open the beer to let the head fizzle off. Banish it to the sink for fizzing over the top of the bottle.

In a larger pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the mirepoix and garlic and saute for five minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add the rice and stir until grains are coated in oil. Add the beer and stir until the rice in absorbed. Stir occasionally.

Ladle in the simmering broth a cup at a time. Let the rice mostly absorb the liquid between additions of broth. Add salt and pepper. Once the liquid is all absorbed into the rice, taste a grain to make sure it isn’t crunchy and gross. Once it’s good, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Dijon mustard, then the cheese, one cup at a time. Reserve a 1/2 cup of cheese for garnish. Stir well until mustard and cheese is thoroughly incorporated with the rice and vegetables.

Serve hot, garnish with additional cheese, parsley and cayenne.

Should you have leftovers, this is also really great heated up for lunch the next day, especially after a particularly trying morning where you got little to no sleep.