Friday, August 17, 2012

Fresh Corn Risotto


The end of summer marks corn season at its pinnacle. I'm lucky enough to have access to local farms that produce fresh corn I can purchase quite cheaply. I particularly enjoy visiting Confreda Farms in Cranston, RI to make my corn purchases. I recently hit them up for some of their sugar butter corn, which I used to make this risotto. Even though I made my own corn stock from the cobs (instead of using store-bought stock), it was considerably easy to make.


I think risotto can be scary because it requires a lot of your attention, but it's honestly one of the easiest things you can make. In my opinion, it's pretty fool-proof if you follow the directions properly. In this case, a purely vegetarian creation boasts crunchy and sweet corn with just a bit of cheese to finish it off. The corn is definitely the highlight here. You can throw in some fresh herbs if you'd like, of course. You can also increase the amount of cheese if you want something more decadent, but the sweetness of the corn will fall into the background.


Fresh Corn Risotto
Serves 4 to 6

Corn Stock:
4 corn cobs (previously shucked, kernels saved for risotto--see below)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
3 quarts (12 cups) cold water

Risotto:
2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
6 to 7 cups hot corn stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups fresh corn kernels (from the 4 corn cobs used in corn stock)
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Place the shucked corn cobs, onion, carrot, and celery in a stock pot and cover with the cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about an hour. Remove the corn cobs with tongs and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or another pot. If the stock is made in advance, reheat it before making the risotto. This should make about 8 to 9 cups stock.

To make the risotto, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir until all of the grains of rice are well-coated with the oil and until the rice begins to look translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes more.

Stir in the white wine and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Begin adding the corn stock a ladle or two at a time, stirring until most of the stock is absorbed, and then adding more stock. This is a slow process, but necessary. Continue to add the stock a little at a time, stirring in between additions to absorb the stock, until you have used about half the stock.

At this point, stir in the corn (it's raw and needs to cook a bit) and season the mixture with salt and pepper (you do NOT want to wait until the end to season your risotto or else the salt will not absorb into the rice). Continue adding the remaining stock one or two ladles at a time, adjusting the seasoning as necessary, until the rice is al dente (mostly cooked through but has a bit of a chewy bite to it) and creamy. This entire process should take about 25 to 30 minutes.

At this point, stir in the grated cheese and do a final taste for seasoning. If your risotto is a little stiff, add another ladle of stock. It should be free-flowing, like lava. Serve immediately.

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