Today: Merrill teaches us how to make a sweet corn risotto, using everything from kernel to cob, to celebrate the warmer months.
This article is brought to you by our friends at Sunshine Sweet Corn. We used their fresh spring corn from Florida, which comes into season in April.
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There's something deeply gratifying about taking an ingredient and using it to the last drop (or grain, or cut, or scrap). It has an old world sensibility to it, a sense of grandmotherly resourcefulness and thrift -- but, more than that, it brings our meals full-circle. It suggests the existence of some higher power who specifically created the chicken such that we could eat it all week, the beet such that we could cook its greens, everything such that it could have a happy afterlife as stock.
Let's apply that same principle to corn. It's impossible for us to pick one favorite way to prepare it, but perhaps the best way to embody all its goodness is to turn it into risotto. Once you prep it, you simmer the bare cobs to make a delicate stock that infuses arborio rice with corn's flavor. At the last minute, you fold in the kernels -- and wind up with a dish that's as sweet and sunny as fresh corn itself.
5 to 6 cobs of sweet corn, raggedly stripped 5 cups water 2 teaspoons kosher salt 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled
1. Add water to a large sauce pot with a lid. Add the salt, smashed garlic, and corn cobs.
2. Bring the water to a boil and then immediately turn the burner to low, then cover and simmer for one hour.
3. After simmering for an hour, discard the smashed garlic pieces. Pick up each corn cob with tongs and, using the back of a large knife, scrape the sides of each cob back into the pot to get all the goodness still clinging onto it. Discard the cobs, and do not strain the liquid. Keep it on a low simmer while you make the risotto.
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon salted butter 1/3 cup chopped shallots 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only 1 cup arborio rice 1/2 cup white wine 4 to 5 cups sweet corn broth, heated in a separate sauce pan 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano 1 cup reserved corn kernels (or more, to taste) 3 tablespoons butter, cold and chopped into cubes
1. Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until they start to brown, stirring occasionally. Next, add the garlic and thyme leaves, stir to combine, and cook for one minute.
2. Add the risotto to the saucepan and stir to combine. Continue cooking and stirring for two to three minutes, until the rice absorbs all the fat.
3. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. Stir to pull up any shallot mixture goodness. Simmer until the rice starts to absorb the wine, two to three minutes.
4. Using a ladle, add two ladlefuls of sweet corn broth to the rice mixture, stirring. Continue stirring until the rice absorbs most of the broth.
5. Continue adding ladles of broth and stirring. One cup of rice should use approximately four cups of stock, sometimes more, sometimes less. After 20 minutes or more, the rice should start looking creamy. Stir and cook until the rice is al dente.
6. Turn the heat off the pan. Add the cubed, cold butter and stir vigorously. Add the Parmesan and one cup of reserved corn kernels (or more to taste). Stir to combine. Cover and let sit for at least five minutes before serving.