Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Sweet Corn Risotto
I don't know about the rest of America, but the Bay Area has been basking in a glorious heat wave over the past few days. Today was right at the cusp of being miserably hot, but there was this nice cool, dry breeze keeping everything reasonably comfortable. I got to enjoy what's surely one of my last few days wearing a sun dress and sandals, in the middle of October. I love Indian summers.
Yet the nights aren't as warm as the days would lead you to believe. Berkeley evenings cool off slowly as the sun dips behind the Golden Gate Bridge, painting the sky a rich amber hue. A night like this isn't quite summer, but it's not quite fall either. I want something a little heartier than a bowl of ice cream for dinner (which, in fact, is all that I feel like eating in hot summer months) but cozying up with a big plate of meat and potatoes don't feel quite right either.
Sweet corn risotto is perfect for the occasion. You still have the chance to celebrate the lingering summer vegetables, but it's sure to be warm and comforting on a barely cold night. I'll be honest, I didn't eat this on the night that I'm writing to you, but if I had any say in what was served on my plate six nights a week, this risotto is what I would have eaten on a night like this. It's rich, it's creamy, and the flavor or the corn is just brilliant. I served it along side a delicious leafy salad with late summer tomatoes, balsamic, and a drizzle of walnut oil (YUM). Like all risottos, it's certainly not hard to make, but it requires a lot of love (just keep telling yourself that as you stand stirring over a steaming pot for 30 minutes, I promise the end result is worth it). It also doesn't look like much so don't judge this recipe by the shabby picture I posted. This sweet corn risotto is begging for you to give it a try, and after all, there may only be a week or two left that you can. So go ahead. Summer is still calling.
Sweet Corn Risotto
Adapted from Cooking Light
This recipe includes a couple of tricks to make the risotto taste creamier but still appeal to the "Cooking Light" crowd. For those of you who've looked at my blog for longer than three seconds, you know I have absolutely no such cooking light agenda. I just nixed the part about pureeing some of the corn to get a creamier taste and texture and added more cheese and butter instead.
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 can (14 ounce) can of chicken broth
3 ears (or 1 1/2 cups) fresh corn kernels*
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil (or as needed)
1 cup sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2-3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh basil, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
In a medium saucepan, bring water, salt, and chicken broth to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and corn kernels and salt to taste. Saute 5-7 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Remove mushroom-corn mixture from pan and set aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add rice and saute 3 minutes or until rice has a nutty aroma and is very lightly browned. Add wine, cook 1-2 minutes until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently until each 1/2 cup is absorbed before adding the next (about 25-30 minutes total). If it seems like it's going too quickly, turn the heat down, if it's cooking to slowly, increase heat.
When all of the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, add mushroom-corn mixture. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, basil, and pepper.
*Use fresh corn! I've never tried this recipe with frozen corn but I can't imagine it being very good. This dish is about bringing out the simple flavors of summer. If fresh corn isn't in season, save this recipe for a time when it is!