Comfort food is one of those phrases that is as elastic as it is overused. Are we talking soft pillow comfort? That would be pudding. Fleece blanket? Maybe pot pies. But when what you need is not simply a culinary balm but a generous heap of anodyne, that’s risotto. Toss in corn and bacon, and well, you’ve got a suite at the Wynn, massage included.
Whenever you begin risotto, you understand your commitment. You will sip wine, sure, but you are going to have to stand there, stirring and thinking, and by the time it’s all through, you will have unraveled the flat tax, or at least secured some serious thoughts about the course of your own life, which may or may not feel a bit like a row boat on a large lake, floating without breeze.
Yes that’s right, low amylose grains so inspire!
I understand if you don’t have any homemade chicken stock on hand, and I also get that six cups is a lot to part with. But you do know that any you can give to this dish will be for the better; plus you can probably get away with just five.
Get your bacon crisped up, and then begin to boil your stock while you chop your onions. Once those are going in the pan of olive oil, do your sage and corn (I found some in the supermarket, God knows where it came from, so I am the last person to judge you if you want to use frozen. I can’t speak to others. But they’re not invited for dinner are they?)
From this point, once you’ve tossed in your rice and wine and stock, it is stir, stir, stir, ladle, stir. Stir more, ladle, sip, stir, stir. You fold the sage and corn in at the end, which will bring the starchy joy of this dish, threaded with the smoky goodness of sage, to its conclusion. Of course you do in fact want the cheese, and a sprinkle of bacon. I did not make the anchovy bites because that seemed beyond weeknight cooking to me, but if you do, whomever is eating with you will be comforted further indeed.
1. Bring chicken stock to boil in saucepan and keep simmering while cooking risotto.
2. In another sauce pan, heat up olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions until translucent.
3. Add rice and stir until opaque. About 1 minute. Add wine to rice, stir until absorbed.
4. Add chicken broth one ladle at a time. After each ladle is absorbed, add another. Stir constantly. I prefer to have the rest of the bottle of Chardonnay next to me, keeping my wine glass filled during my risotto stirring. My favorite way to make risotto.
5. When you have about 1 cup of chicken stock left, add remaining stock, corn, and sage.
6. When absorbed, finished with butter, salt, and pepper. Add cheese if you please Note: be careful with salt, if you are going to add bacon, cheese, and/or sage bites.
7. Serve and garnish with bacon and Anchovy Sage Bite for fun.
Anchovy Sage Bite:
1 egg, slightly beaten
1. Mash anchovies in dish. Approx. 1/2 anchovy per sage leaf. You can make one or a dozen. Spread on one side of leaf.
2. Roll leaf in rice flour with pepper. Shake off excess.
3. Dip leaf in beaten egg.
4. Place egged leaf in canola oil that has been heating in a sauce pan.
5. Brown, drain and serve. I like to use them for garnish.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).