Sunday, August 18, 2013

Creamy Corn Risotto

First of all, let me apologize for going so long without posting. The first week of July I moved and started a class that has been the most labor-intensive class yet in this graduate program. So lately I've been doing much less cooking than normal, even less food photography, and still less writing down what I made and what I thought about it.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about risotto. And more specifically Creamy Corn Risotto. Corn is one of my favorite things about summer, and ever since I successfully made Roasted Cauliflower Risotto last winter, risotto no longer scares me. So when I saw this Creamy Corn Risotto in the August Cooking Light, it quickly went on my recipe bucket list.

While I enjoyed this dish and think the recipe is a good starting point, I wasn't utterly wowed by it. I expected it to be bursting with flavor, but the only flavor that was really bursting was black pepper. Also, when I'd used up all the milk and corn mixture, my rice was still a little crunchy, but I was out of liquid. Finally, I thought it needed a bit of cheese. So I'm including the recipe below as I made it, and adding some ideas for improvement below the recipe.

Creamy Corn Risotto
Slightly adapted from Cooking Light
Yield: 3 servings

1/2 large red bell pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. milk (1%)
1 Tbsp. butter, divided
1-1/4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/8 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Discard the seeds and membrane from the bell pepper. If you have a gas stove, use tongs to hold the pepper over an open flame, until the skin is evenly blistered. (If you don't have a gas stove, preheat broiler to high, and place pepper skin side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 8 minutes or until blackened.) Wrap pepper in foil or a small paper bag; let stand for 5 minutes. Peel and chop.

Combine corn, milk, and 1/2 Tbsp. butter in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in stock and keep warm over low heat.

Melt 1/2 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Stir in rice, salt, and black pepper; saute 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds or until almost all the liquid is evaporated, scraping the pan to loosen any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium.

Stir in 3/4 cup corn mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add remaining corn mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of corn mixture is absorbed before adding the next scoop. This process should take about 20 minutes. When you get to the last 1/2 cup of corn mixture, remove the risotto from heat and stir in the final scoop of corn mixture, plus bell pepper and green onions. Serve immediately.

Ideas for Improvement

  • Add half a poblano pepper, roasting it along with the red pepper.
  • Stir in a bit of grated cheese right at the end. I think even 1/8 or 1/4 cup would make a huge difference. And I think Parmesan, pepper jack, Monterrey jack, or queso fresco would be excellent choices.
  • Use about half as much black pepper.
  • Have an extra cup or so of warmed milk and/or chicken stock, so that if your rice is still crunchy when you reach the end, you'll still have some cooking liquid left.
  • Sprinkle some fresh basil on top right before serving. I'm not sure how basil would go with poblano, so maybe do one addition or the other.

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