We got a few lovely ears of corn in our CSA box last week, so I've been experimenting with corn lately. I love corn. It's a bright, happy, yellow color. Yes, colors have emotions. Oh, you think that's cheesy? Well… uh… you're right. Guys, I'm really cheesy.
Corn is also one of those weird vegetables that isn't really a vegetable; you just thought it was growing up, but it's actually a fruit. Much like tomatoes. But when you look at this plate of food, do you think "fruit salad?" I don't. But maybe I should.
Whatever the classification, when sweet corn is paired with creamy risotto and a little spicy kick from red pepper, the results are purely delicious. You can eat this alongside a salad, baked salmon, grilled shrimp, a steak, or your favorite vegetable side dish. It can be a main course or side dish, but we love risotto so much at my house that my husband and I mostly eat it as a main course. But that's just us.
1 cup arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
3 cups seafood or vegetable stock (about 25 ounces)
1/2 white onion (about 1/4 cup once chopped)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 ear of corn
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt + pepper to taste
Begin by preparing all your vegetables. Remove the kernels from the ear of corn, chop the onion, and mince the garlic.
In a small pot, combine the wine and vegetable stock. Simmer (over very low heat). Having these elements warm will help them to cook into the rice faster. This step is not essential, as I will sometimes cook risotto with just a bottle of wine and a container of stock nearby, splashing them in cold as I go. But I find that warming these two liquids does save me some time.
In the large saucepan, heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic just until they begin to soften and become very fragrant (1 to 2 minutes). Toss in the rice and cook for another 2 minutes until it begins to look translucent. Now begin adding the wine/stock mixture, half a cup at a time, stirring until it's mostly absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is cooked through. I usually taste a few grains of rice once I've used most of the wine/stock mixture to see if they are done. You may not need all of the liquid. This particular time I ended up not needing about 2 tablespoons of the liquid. Once the rice is nearly cooked through, toss in the corn, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
The corn will still have some crunch to it, and I like this! But another option is to cook the corn in a separate pan before adding it to the risotto (with a little butter or oil). I did this on one of my first practice attempts and found that it felt too cooked and a bit too oily. Trey agreed. (Yes, my husband ends up the test guinea pig for whatever I'm developing for work. He's a good sport, though.)
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.