Corn Risotto to Soothe My Springless Soul
Sometimes things can just be simple, you know? It isn't all Risotto al Nero di Seppia around here, although it is often all risotto.
I saw a video of Merill from Food52 whipping up a corn risotto and despite the fact that we won't see local corn until the end of the summer that will seemingly never occur, I can think of little else. I just made a plain risotto the way I always do but took her technique of adding the raw kernels to the finished rice and covering the pot for five minutes to just cook the corn. I had never thought of doing that before and the result in just tender corn and, therefore, a beautiful, crisp texture in that sea of creamy rice. I think the only real change I made was to add fresh thyme to the stock because, to me, corn and butter must also have some thyme in there. I also topped it with some sherried mushrooms because mushrooms are always a good idea but it was delicious all on it's own.
I am counting the days until August when I can make this risotto using fresh, sweet Ontario corn but until then, I will have to be happy with my imported corn, a sweater and a windbreaker and broken dreams of a nonexistent spring.
Corn Risottoserves 4 as a main dish, 4-6 as a side
3 cobs of fresh corn
6 cups of mild chicken stock or mix of stock and water
small bunch of fresh thyme
1 small glug of olive oil
1 tbls of butter
1 small onion, finley diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tbls cold butter, cut into chunks
Cut the kernels off of the corn and put the cobs in a pot with the stock and a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil and then turn it down so it's just barely simmering and let the corn cobs steep while you get everything else ready (at least half an hour). When it's time to cook the risotto you can remove the corn cobs if you like but I just leave them in because they continue to steep as you cook the risotto. Turn the heat to low so that the stock stays hot but isn't boiling at all.
Melt a small glug of olive oil (approx a couple of tbls if you must be so precise) and the butter in a deep pan or pot (as always, my 5qt Le Creuset dutch oven works perfectly) over medium heat. You want a pot or pan that has a lid for this one.
Saute the onion until it softens for a few minutes, add the garlic and saute for another minute before you throw in the rice. Stir the rice around in the pan for a few minutes until it starts to look opaque. Now we are ready to start adding liquid.
Pour in the wine and start to stir. You will stir constantly for the next 18-20 minutes so get comfy. The liquid should be simmering in the rice- if you keep the heat too low it will not get as tender and creamy. Stir the rice until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before you add the next addition of liquid. The easiest way to do this is to keep a ladle in your pot of very hot, not simmering, stock on the back burner.
After the wine absorbs you start adding the hot stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is almost completely absorbed and then add another ladle. You are going to do this for anywhere between about 18 and 20 odd minutes. At the 15 minute mark, I start to try the rice and I spoon out a tiny bit every minute from there on in to make sure I don't overcook it. When it's done it will have a bit of bite to it but be soft and clearly cooked - al dente just like you want in a pasta.
When it's finished, remove the pan from the heat and with a wooden spoon, beat in the parmesan and cold butter until it's completely incorporated. Now, fold in the raw corn kernels, mixing them in thoroughly, cover the pan and let sit for five minutes while you get the serving bowls together etc. This five minute steam will just cook the corn so that it will still maintain a tiny bit of crispness and texture.
I served with mushrooms but it would be great alone.