Can you imagine anything more comforting and fall-like than a big bowl of creamy, rich pumpkin risotto with a touch of warming spices and nutty hints from a generous helping of Gruyere? This Gruyere-pumpkin ale risotto is one of my favorite fall meals, and I look forward to making a batch every year.
In the craft beer community, there isn’t a more divisive beer style than pumpkin ale. Every year, pumpkin beer hits the shelves in August, and people get straight-up angry. Never mind that all seasonal beers come to market early. Now that it’s October, take a stroll down the craft beer aisle at your liquor store, and I’ll bet money that winter warmers are already out.
And it’s not just that pumpkin beers come out early. Plenty of beer snobs scoff at the taste of pumpkin beer and put down people who enjoy a good pumpkin beer. You know what? That’s ridiculous. I love pumpkin beer. In fact, many people love pumpkin beer, and I won’t let the beer snobs shame me.
For this risotto recipe, I always like to use one of my all-time favorite pumpkin beers: Pump Action from 4 Noses Brewing in Broomfield, Colorado. Pump Action is everything I love in a pumpkin beer. Unlike some pumpkin beers, Pump Action doesn't shy away from the spice, and its thick, big body has a velvety texture that makes me think of pie. For me, I want pumpkin pie in a glass, and Pump Action is the perfect example of that type of pumpkin ale.
A good risotto is all about the prep work. Once the risotto starts to cook, we spend a lot of time stirring, so we want to make sure each ingredient is ready to go. Although I list this pumpkin ale risotto as vegetarian, you can add bacon if you're inclined. Honestly, it's delicious with or without bacon, so the choice is yours. If you use bacon, I prefer to bake it rather than cooking in a skillet for this recipe. Simply pop the bacon into a 400-degree oven and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the bacon and continue baking until the bacon reaches your preferred crispness.
While the bacon bakes, let's go ahead and prep our other ingredients. Start by bringing chicken stock to a low simmer. We want to add warm liquid to our risotto, so bringing the chicken stock to a simmer is an important step to getting even cooking. As the chicken stock simmers, chop some onion and garlic and measure the arborio rice, pumpkin beer, pumpkin puree, butter, spices, sage and shredded Gruyere.
By now, the bacon should be ready, and we can start on the risotto. Melt plenty of butter in a medium-size pot and cook the onion to soften. Add a little garlic with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg and briefly cook. We then pour in the arborio rice to toast and deglaze the pot with the pumpkin beer after a few minutes.
Once the pumpkin beer nearly cooks off, get ready to become a stirring machine. Ladle in a scoop of chicken stock and stir until the rice absorbs all the stock. While we don't have to stir every second the risotto cooks, we want to stir most of the time. After the rice absorbs the stock, add another ladle and repeat until the rice is tender. This takes some time, but I find it's a relaxing process.
When the risotto is tender to your liking, stir in the pumpkin puree, Gruyere, butter, fresh sage and bacon if using. Give it a taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary. I always like to do this after stirring in the butter and cheese to ensure you don't add too much salt.
And that's it. We're now ready to dig into a creamy, comforting bowl of Gruyere-pumpkin ale risotto.
Do I even have to say it? You should obviously crack open another pumpkin beer to go along with this delicious risotto. That said, this pumpkin ale risotto is also lovely with a Belgian-style dubbel. The spicy yeast complements the cinnamon and nutmeg in the risotto, and the dark malt tends to show off a brown sugar quality that pairs well with pumpkin.
If you're in the mood for wine, an Alsatian pinot gris is just right. Alsatian pinot gris is known for its stone fruit notes with mulling spices, so the two were made for each other.
If you're looking for a comforting fall meal or even a new Thanksgiving side dish, I hope you try this Gruyere-pumpkin ale risotto.
Craving More Comforting Fall Dishes?
- Colorado-style pork green chile
- Soft beer pretzels with Oktoberfest cheese dip
- Caramelized onion polenta with blue cheese sauce
- Chicken and mushroom pie
- Pumpkin mac and cheese
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Gruyere-Pumpkin Ale Risotto
- ½ pound bacon optional
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 1 onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced or grated
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg preferably freshly grated
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups arborio rice
- ½ cup pumpkin ale
- 6-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 cup Gruyere shredded
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh sage chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip the bacon and bake for another five minutes. Check the bacon and if it needs more time, flip again and bake for another five minutes. Repeat until the bacon is cooked to your liking. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and crumble when cool enough to handle. If you'd like to keep the risotto vegetarian, skip this step.
- As the bacon bakes, bring the stock to a gentle simmer in a saucepan. Cover and keep warm. Measure and chop the other ingredients you'll use in the risotto.
- In a separate saucepan or Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and cook the onions until they're translucent, about four to five minutes. Stir in the garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add the arborio rice and stir to coat with butter. If necessary, you can always add more butter. Cook for about two to three minutes.
- Pour in the pumpkin ale and stir until most of the beer evaporates.
- Adding one ladle at a time, pour in warm stock. Stir frequently until the rice absorbs all the stock. Add another ladle and repeat. While you want to stir most of the time, it's OK to take short breaks here and there.
- After about 20 minutes, taste the rice to see how much it's cooked. When the rice is tender to your liking and the sauce is creamy, it's ready. If the rice is still too hard, keep adding chicken stock and continue to cook.
- Once the risotto finishes cooking, turn off heat and stir in the Gruyere, pumpkin puree, fresh sage, remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and bacon if using. Keep stirring until the cheese and butter melts. If needed, add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.