This beer potato risotto is genuinely a bowl of comfort food when eaten on its own, even though most frequently we serve it as a side to grilled steak or pork chops.
We strongly favor Pilsner in preparing it. The role of the beer is minimal but delivers a solid infusion of biscuity malt flavor and mild herbal notes from Noble hops.
As far as cooking with beer goes, this recipe is a long time favorite of ours.
Potato Risotto Ingredients
As revealed by the name of the dish, the part of the white wine traditionally used in regular risotto is played by beer while starchy diced potatoes act as rice.
Butter, chicken stock, and cheese join the cast and the resulting combination is nothing less than comforting.
What Type of Potatoes?
I find that the best results happen when using starchy (ex. Idaho potatoes) or all-purpose potatoes (ex. Yukon Gold). I lean towards the all-purpose ones. They will release starch, they will look mushy, yet each individual potato dice will have retained some firmness underneath the savory sheath of butter, Pilsner, stock and cheese.
Depending on the type and size of the potatoes you use, you may find that that you run out of chicken stock before they are completely cooked through. If this is the case, just go ahead and add water until your beer potato risotto is ready to receive the grated cheese and final lump of butter.
What Style Beer?
Pilsners are a particularly desirable choice for this recipe both due to the malts and hops used to create them. The bready and sweet notes from the malts typically used to brew pilsners and the herbal, grassy presence of the Noble hops are very complimentary to potatoes.
For other suitable choices look among – English or American amber ales and brown ales, American wheat ales, Munich helles, dunkel lager.
We had the Crooked Stave Von Pilsner above in the fridge (ABV 5%, IBU 35) and I used it this time around even though it is not exactly the classic, brilliant Pilsner we usually go for when making beer potato risotto. It is brewed in the Kellerbier tradition – unclarified, casked and cellar fermented. It can be fermented by either lager or ale yeast.
We shared more detail about Von Pilsner and the Kellerbier style in this post.
What Kind of Cheese?
The cheese I used in this particular batch was a Toscano with cracked black pepper. We usually go with white cheddar from Wisconsin (the one with the black wax) because it is Chris’ favorite cheddar and partners so well with potatoes. Gouda is also a great choice for this recipe if you prefer it or you can opt for Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
The Toscano is another Trader Joe’s find of yours truly. It is a cow’s milk cheese and Trader Joe’s team describe it as a hybrid between a farmstead cheddar and an aged Parmesan. It is creamy yet has a nice firmness to it. Sweet with subtle nuttiness and pleasant herbal, spicy notes. And there is the cracked black pepper hand rubbed all over each wheel.
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- 2 tbsp butter divided
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 6-8 large potatoes starchy like Russet or all-purpose like Yukon golds
- 1/2 cup Pilsner lager
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup grated semi-hard cheese such as white cheddar, Gouda + more for garnish
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt & pepper
Peel and dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes.
In a Dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat melt 1 tbsp of the butter, add the olive oil and the diced onion. Stir and let cook until the onions soften.
Once softened, reduce heat to medium, add the minced garlic and let cook for another minute.
Deglaze with the Pilsner, stir and add the diced potatoes.
Add a ladleful of chicken stock, stir and cook until the liquid gets absorbed. Continue adding stock one ladleful at a time and stirring until potatoes are cooked through. If you run out of stock add a bit of water instead.
Once the potatoes are cooked, remove the pot from the heat, season with salt and pepper and slowly fold in the cheese and the remaining butter.
Garnish with more cheese and thyme leaves and serve.