Corn Risotto and my Risotto Rules

To me cooking is like therapy – I can stop thinking about everything else in the world and just focus on turning raw ingredients into great food.  I like the ritual of cooking classics and I like the fun and excitement of cooking new things.  Of course the result itself can often serve as its own sort of remedy, especially comfort food.  Risotto is one of my favorite therapeutic meals because the method is so soothing and the meal itself is creamy and soft and lovely.  I have been toying with the idea of making a corn risotto for a while so when we were on the Eastern Shore of Maryland a couple of weeks ago I made sure to pick up some super fresh ears from a farm stand.  The sweetness of the corn is such a good match with the creaminess of the risotto.  Here I made my own corn broth using the cobs of the corn going into the risotto.  I think this really bumps up the corn flavor but it also adds about 40 minutes to the process.  You could either make the broth the day before and just store the kernels in the fridge or skip that step all together and use chicken or veggie stock you have on hand.

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One common misconception about risotto is that there is actual cream in it – there isn’t.  Ok maybe some recipes include it, and I am SURE it wouldn’t be bad, but it’s just not needed.  The special aborio rice used in risotto is really starchy so as you slowly cook it with stock the starch is released and creates its own creaminess.  Whether you are making corn risotto or another kind there are certain rules of the road that you should follow to ensure the right texture.  Once you have learned the basics risotto can really become a vehicle for any ingredient you would like.

ACC’s Risotto Rules

  1. Use aborio rice.  This Italian short-grain rice is made for risotto – some recipes recommend carnaroli rice but I have tried it before and it just doesn’t get the same result as aborio.  You can really find this rice in most supermarkets these days in the Italian section, but if not there are plenty of it to be found online.  I do not have a favorite brand but if someone does please chime in.
  2. Do not use a risotto mix.  These things are lunacy!  It’s basically aborio rice with dehydrated flavorings included.  I am all for mixes that taste good and actually save you some time but you still have to do all the work with these and the taste is just never going to be as good as something you can put together yourself.  Trust me.
  3. Go with shallots over onions.  If all you have is an onion then by all means but I think shallots are a much softer and sweeter flavor that works well in risotto.  And who can say no to a lavender colored onion??
  4. Make sure to toast the rice and coat with fat.  Once you have sautéed the shallots in butter and or olive oil make sure to add the rice and stir it around.  This will help toast the rice a bit, giving it more flavor, and also coat it in fat.  This will help the grains of rice stay separate and in tact during the cooking process.
  5. Wine!  Make sure to add a splash of wine first before you start with the broth.  Usually you should use a dry, crisp white but sometimes it’s fun to use red and end up with pinkish risotto.
  6. Keep your broth warm.  You do not want to add cold broth to your risotto as it will cause the rice to seize up and it will not take on the broth as well, taking longer and resulting in uneven cooking.  In a separate saucepan keep your broth over low heat and make sure its close for easy ladeling.
  7. Stir, stir and stir again.  Part of the magic of risotto is that starchy goodness that comes out of the rice.  The best way to move it along is to constantly stir.  Some people find this annoying but as I said I think it’s pretty relaxing.  You can certainly walk away from the pot to pour yourself a glass of wine or give your arm a rest but don’t go too far.  If you don’t stir it won’t get really thick and you run the risk of the bottom burning.  If you get the temperature right risotto really only takes 30 mins max, so not that much stirring.
  8. Don’t over cook.  Make sure you keep the temperature pretty moderate while you are adding the broth so the rice has time to absorb the liquid.  I keep a fork handy so I can continuously check the doneness of the rice.  It’s supposed to be al dente with a little bit of bite to it but heck since you took the time to make your own you can call it done whenever it reaches the doneness you like!

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Corn Risotto (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  the miles and miles of corn fields on the Eastern Shore
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 ears of corn – kernels cut off and cobs reserved
  • 1 onion, unpeeled cut in quarters
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled cut in half
  • 1 celery rib, cut in pieces
  • 1/2 a bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 6 cups of chicken or veggie stock if not making the corn stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • chives

If you are making the corn stock put the corn cobs (kernels removed) in a large pot with the onion, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and peppercorns.  Cover with 6 cups of water and then bring to a boil.  Cover and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes.  When its done strain the liquid into a smaller saucepan, removing all the solids.  Warm the stock over low heat.  If you are not making the corn stock at this point add the chicken or veggie stock to a small saucepan and warm over low heat.  In a high sided skillet melt the butter over medium heat, then add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the olive oil and increase the heat to medium to medium high and add the corn kernels.  Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  The sugars in the corn will start to caramelize and crust up the bottom of the pan which is fine, just don’t let the corn burn (if you need to turn down the heat).

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Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil and butter.  Reduce the heat to medium low again.  Splash in the wine and use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.  Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.

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After about 25 minutes I start checking the doneness of the rice but usually it will take closer to 30 or 35 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (it’s tender with just a little bit of bite to it) take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Top with chopped chives and serve immediately.

Corn Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 ears of corn – kernels cut off and cobs reserved
  • 1 onion, unpeeled cut in quarters
  • 2 carrots, unpeeled cut in half
  • 1 celery rib, cut in pieces
  • 1/2 a bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 6 cups of chicken or veggie stock if not making the corn stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • chives

If you are making the corn stock put the corn cobs (kernels removed) in a large pot with the onion, carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and peppercorns.  Cover with 6 cups of water and then bring to a boil.  Cover and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes.  When its done strain the liquid into a smaller saucepan, removing all the solids.  Warm the stock over low heat.  If you are not making the corn stock at this point add the stock to a small saucepan and warm over low heat.  In a high sided skillet melt the butter over medium heat, then add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the olive oil and increase the heat to medium to medium high and add the corn kernels.  Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.  The sugars in the corn will start to caramelize and crust up the bottom of the pan which is fine, just don’t let the corn burn and if you need to turn down the heat.  Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil and butter.  Reduce the heat to medium low again.  Splash in the wine and use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.  Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.  After about 25 minutes I start checking the doneness of the rice but usually it will take closer to 30 or 35 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (its tender with just a little bit of bite to it) take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Top with chopped chives and serve immediately.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Peep my Cookbooks | A Capitol Contessa

  2. Pingback: Apple and Cheddar Risotto | A Capitol Contessa

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