I made this Spanish lager risotto for the first time last month. I was on my way to a Eurovision costume party, and as I was going dressed as Spain, I was in the mood for Spanish flavours!
Paella takes way too long to cook, so with an hour to play in the kitchen, I opted for paella’s cousin: the Italian risotto.
I had chorizo in the fridge, and red and yellow peppers in the crisper, but I’d run out of wine (ie: drank it all) for the sauce. So I rifled through my fridge, did a bit of a Google, and decided to experiment with some of Gary’s bottled beers instead.
And it worked really well! The lager has a deeper flavour than the white wine used in most risotto recipes, and it pairs brilliant with the strong flavours of chorizo, tomato and garlic.
Throw in some colourful red and yellow peppers, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and you’ve got yourself a fiesta!
For some reason, a lot of people seem to think risotto is super complicated to make, but I’ve been making risotto since I was a student and I promise: it’s very simple.
Start by prepping all your risotto ingredients: chopping onions, peppers, or whatever. Cook those in a big pot, then add the rice, and just stir in some hot liquid, a little bit at a time, until the rice is cooked and the sauce is creamy.
So basically: chop and stir. That’s literally all there is to it. If you can chop and stir, you can make risotto!
Now, you do need to buy a specific type of rice for making risotto. It’s called arborio rice, and it’s a short grain, high-starch rice available in pretty much every supermarket (you’ll find it in the same aisle as your regular rice).
Arborio rice is perfect for making risotto because cooking it releases the starch, which is what makes the sauce really creamy and delicious.
Risotto ideally need to be made last minute, so it’s not great for a big party where you want to focus on spending time with your guests. However, as an intimate supper for two to six people, it’s perfect. Just keep in mind that you’ll be locked in the kitchen for at least thirty minutes, stirring the risotto, so it might not be very sociable (depending on your kitchen!)
If you have any of this lager risotto left after dinner, tub it down as soon as it’s stopped steaming and put it in the fridge right away to avoid bacteria. It will keep for up to three days in the fridge, and it’s actually really nice cold for lunch the next day!
Peel and finely chop your onion. Peel and crush the garlic. Deseed the peppers, and chop them into bitesize pieces. Run a sharp knife very carefully along the length of the chorizo sausage, then peel off the skin. Slice the chorizo into rounds, then chop these into half moons. Grate the cheese.
Put a non-stick pan on the hob on a medium heat, and once it's hot, throw in the chorizo and cook for 3-5 minutes (there's no need to add extra oil, as the chorizo will release flavoured oil as it cooks). Add the onions and peppers to the chorizo, and fry for 5-7 minutes until the peppers are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Throw your rice in the pan, and use a wooden spoon to stir it until everything is coated in the oil. Pour in the lager, and let it cook down for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the the tomato puree and smoked paprika.
Pour a ladleful of stock into the pan, and use the wooden spoon to stir it in. Keep stirring until you can't see any liquid, then add another ladle of stock and stir again. Keep adding ladles of liquid (one at a time) and stirring, until the rice is cooked through and the sauce is creamy: approx. 25-30 minutes. Don't worry if you don't use all the stock.
Take the pan off the heat, and stir through the Parmesan until melted. Check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the risotto, give everything a final stir, and serve immediately.
If you're vegetarian, you could omit the chorizo and substitute with some butternut squash chunks, or even just double the amount of peppers. Make sure you also double the quantity of smoked paprika so you keep the flavour.
If you're vegan, you'll also need to substitute the Parmesan for a vegan hard cheese. A lot of lagers are vegan-friendly, so just make sure you check the bottle before using (here's a list for any UK readers).
For both: add a bit of vegetable oil to the pan before cooking the onions.
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