Welsh Rarebit Risotto

Excuse me if I seem a little distracted lately. It’s just that there’s been quite a bit going on. The weather has been nice, therefore inspiring serious bouts of lounging and laziness. I’ve been busy thinking about what I’m going to make for a Superbowl party this weekend (I think its going to be deviled eggs…let me know if you have any good recipes). And I guess the main reason for the distraction is the fact that I‘m here at school but wish more than anything that I was at home playing with this little guy all day.

Meet Ozzie, the newest addition to the household. And no, he is not named after Ozzy Osborne but more so after Ozzy from Survivor. See the similarities? He is a dark brown miniature poodle from Dimarnique's Poodles in Delaware but part of me thinks he is part brown bear. He is composed almost entirely out of fluff and looks like this waddling little feather duster scooting around the floor. But he does have these huge feet that our even bigger that our 5-year old poodle’s that look just like baby bear paws and a sweet, fat tummy. He spends either half of his time going nuts and running around like a maniac or knocked out asleep. He likes to be around people at all times so he has fallen into slumber wherever we happen to be; under the coffee table while we watched TV, right next to the stove as we were cooking… Man I miss this little guy.

But I will not see him for at least two weeks longer. I’ll be hanging around school this weekend for a Superbowl party on Sunday and boy am I excited. Not necessarily because I actually like football but I cannot wait to gorge on some chicken wings. And as I said, I’ve been looking up a snack to make for the game and after spending some time browsing amongst “game-day” food lists of all things meaty, greasy, and tasty, I got an urge for something along those lines…imagine that. So I took classic football flavors and turned it into a filling and moderately healthy dinner. Now for the second big introduction in this post…meet Welsh rarebit risotto.

The best way I can describe this is that classic risotto met a hardcore football fan, one that paints his face with team colors, bears foam fingers, and may or may not have a bit of a beer belly, and birthed something entirely new...and brilliant. It’s a cacophony of all things masculine with a deep sweet bitterness of porter beer and all balanced out with tangy Dijon mustard and extra sharp cheddar cheese and a dash of Worcestershire. Made with a mixture of barley for even more malty flavor and risotto rice, it has heft and integrity from the chewy barley but the rice lends a silky creaminess. And if that is not game day enough for you, I topped it with a smoked bratwurst, cooked until tight and charred and bursting with sweet meaty flavor. And finally, to retain the elegancy or risotto, I scattered diced tomatoes and fresh green broccoli overtop to cut through the richness of the salty and tangy flavors. Like I said before, total dude food. I mean, beer, cheese, mustard, meat…it speaks for itself.

Though I won’t be making this to bring to my game-day potluck, I imagine it would be a winner if you served this at a small get-together this Sunday. Just set it up DIY style. Keep the risotto warm on the stove and set the brats, tomatoes, and broccoli to the side so everyone can heft up one whichever add-ons they please. If you thought risotto was a feminine, fancy dish, just wait until you see the manic football guy (the one who hoots and hollers and runs around the room at every touchdown, only leaving his recliner to get another beer) missing part of the game to chow down on this. I can almost guarantee it will happen.

Now how did I go from talking about our puppy to Superbowl food? See, I told you I was distracted.

Welsh Rarebit Risotto
serves 4-6
If you have leftover risotto, like I did, you can use it to make a quick lunch. Just heat it up and top it with some brussels en papillote and a sprinkling of parmesan (pictured below). It's very filling and warming and a great way to mix things up with the remaining risotto (which is much needed after I've been eating with twith the brats for four days straight). 

1 quart vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup pearled barley
½ cup Arborio rice
12 oz dark beer (I used a porter and to be honest, only about 10 oz made it into the risotto. The rest was snack)
2 tsp. Worcestershire
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1.5 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups broccoli florets, steamed
1 tomato, diced
4 fully cooked smoked bratwursts (I used these)
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan, heat the stock until boiling. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer lightly until you are ready to use it. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook about 3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook 1 more minute. Add the barley and the rice and a little salt and pepper and stir to coat. Cook for a minute while stirring to lightly toast the grains.

Add the beer and the Worcestershire and stir until the liquid had completely absorbed. Then, add in the hot stock, one cup at a time, stirring occasionally. As the risotto absorbs the liquid and starts to look dry, continue adding one for cup of stock until it is gone.

While the risotto is cooking, prepare the tomato, steam the broccoli, and start crisping up the sausage in a pan with a little olive oil over a medium heat.

Once you have added all of the stock and the risotto has absorbed most of it, add the Dijon and the cheese and stir until completely incorporated. Add a little more liquid if it looks too thick and if it seems to thin, continue to cook. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, dollop a mound of risotto on a plate and top with a sliced brat, some steamed broccoli, and a scattering of the tomatoes.