Dinner for 2: Beer Risotto with Speck, Cardamom and Lemon!

Dinner for 2: Beer Risotto with Speck, Cardamom and Lemon!

Make this tasty, spiced risotto which uses beer instead of standard wine. Space things up in the kitchen and let your better half say: “WOW”!

Per la ricetta in ITALIANO clicca QUI!

By living in China we (Westerns) get to celebrates lots of holidays twice. First time we do it based on our standard solar calendar and then we do it again based on the Chinese lunar calendar. So there we are toasting at the new year on 1st January midnight, buying a box of chocolates for our loved one on 14th February, praying for our death ones on 1st November and then there we are again celebrating based on the Chinese lunar system.

I certainly am not the one complaining here, love holidays and love presents! So if you happen to be in China, you will know that August 28 is QiXi Festival (七夕),  AKA Chinese Valentine’s day! This means that, if you have a better half to celebrate with, it’s time to rush to the shop and order flowers, a nice present and treat her/him to a nice dinner.

Most restaurants offer in Shanghai special QiXi deals, however I think there is nothing better than homemade meals to show your love and care. This risotto recipe I am sharing with you today is very simple and requires just a few ingredients, which makes it affordable and also doable for anyone, even those with little cooking skills.

Few are the things that make this risotto a lil “special”:

  • cardamom, an Indian spice which will infuse the rice with a delicate aroma
  • beer. Yes, you got that right. And not standard beer, I am talking about crafted Italian beer!

The beer I use in my recipe is an Italian brand called Viola Italian Premium Beer.

Viola was founded by Maurizio Arduini, who dedicated the brand to his grandfather Mario.
When he was still very young, Mario would take Maurizio out for rides in his car, and since he was a firm fan of motoring, he’d keep repeating to his grandson, speaking only in Romagna dialect, “sent cum la và sta machinena, la và com’è nà viola!“, which translated might be more or less: “Listen how well this car goes, she’s running like a violet!” (the car was a Fiat 127, and violet in color.. but this was maybe just a coincidence). So for Maurizio the magical word “Viola” has always stood for excellence:
If something’s going well.. IT’S GOING LIKE A VIOLET!

Perhaps what his grandfather meant to say was that the motor sounded like a “viola”, like the instrument, and the same word in Italian as for “violet”.
Anyway, whatever he meant, for Maurizio VIOLA represents something that’s GOOD: it’s good to make it, and it’s good to drink it.

I just love the story behind the brand and I love even more their beers, which is crafted with the expertise of master brewers of international fame. They produce 3 types of beer in 3 formats *35.5 cl, 75 cl and draft):

Bionda Lager, Red Ale, Pale Ale

They are 100% made in Italy, from the design of the bottles (which, let’s say it, are super cute – I love that heart painted on them!), to the brewing of the beers.

For my recipe I have used the Bionda Lager and the Pale Ale (numerotre)

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 180 g Arborio or Carnarioli rice
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 30 + 30 g butter
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 150 ml Viola Pale Ale (numerotre)
  • 400 ml Viola Bionda Lager
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable broth concentrate
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 lemon grated zest
  • black pepper
  • 80 g speck, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. fresh flat-leave Italian parsley, chopped

Pour a bottle of Viola Bionda Lager into a sauce pan

add the broth concentrate and bring to a simmer

Separate the cardamom seeds from their external pods

add the emptied pods into the beer broth

Dice up the onion and roughly cut the speck

In a large saucepan melt 30 g of butter and 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil, add the onion and gently let it cook on low heat. You do not want the onion to burn, but you want it to get nice and soft so that it infuses the oil and butter with flavor. Add the speck and let it get nice and crispy

Next grab some high quality Carnarioli or Arborio rice

add it the sauce pan and “toast” it on medium low until its edges get translucent. Add the cardamom seeds

Now grab a bottle of Viola Pale Ale (numerotre) and pour it into the rice, add 15g of cold butter

turn on medium-high heat and let all the liquid evaporate while stirring with a whisk

Only then slowly add the beer broth (making sure the cardamom pod don’t follow into the rice). Just add enough to cover the rice and let is simmer on slow. Only when the rice has absorbed all the broth, add more. Keep doing this until the rice is cooked

Then remove the saucepan from heat, add 15g of butter a few tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, and with a whisk stir it in. Cover with a lid and let your risotto settle for 3 minutes.

Meanwhile chop up some fresh flat-leave parsley and when ready to plate add that to the risotto with some lemon zest.

Serve it right away

no one likes cold risotto!

I think risotto is the perfect dish to show love and care, you know why? Because making good risotto takes time and dedication. It requires you to stand at your kitchen stove adding broth and stirring until the rice is just done to perfection!

Serve it with a good glass of cold Viola beer!

If you are interested in ordering some Viola, check out their WeChat store

they have a special deal for Qixi!

Happy Qixi festival 🙂

NOTE: this is a sponsored post. If you also wish to work with us email: daniela@thefitmediterranean.com

About the author:

An Italian living in China with a strong passion for cooking! Browse my 'left-overs' session for many tasty grub!. Follow her on Twitter / Facebook.