This dish was inspired by a recent wine tasting trip to Santa Ynez, California where my husband and I tasted the 2007 Anacapa from Rusack Vineyards, a blend that smelled like jalapeno and left a slight red pepper kick on the back of your tongue.
After buying a bottle we started brainstorming what might go well with it and tuna immediately came to mind. I also wanted to play up the southwestern flavors without putting too much emphasis on spice, so jalapeno blended with fresh basil became an elegant solution. The corn here is smoky but still sweet, and because it's pureed and infused into the stock, I find this technique better intensifies the flavor. - cookingafterfive —nicolecooks
Test Kitchen Notes
Cookingafterfive's Charred Corn Risotto with Seared Tuna and Basil-Jalapeno Oil is one of those recipes that sounds really, really good and then proceeds to exceed expectations! The smokey grilled corn adds a wonderful dimension to the risotto, and the basil-jalapeno oil is the perfect punctuation (although we heartily condone using more than one jalapeno for an extra kick!). While we could see using this risotto as an accompaniment to many main courses, such as chicken or shellfish, it was a perfect foil for sweet, meaty sushi-grade tuna. First time around, we prepared it as directed using a grill pan, then we succumbed to the lure of a fabulous summer evening and did the whole thing outside on the grill. Just lovely! - wssmom —wssmom
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and drizzle the corn with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sear the corn, turning occasionally, until sufficiently charred on all sides and most of the kernels are caramelized and dark brown. Set aside briefly to cool. Leave the heat on the grill pan and add the jalapeno slices. Cook for about three minutes, turning halfway through, until softened and bits of the skin have charred. (While you're grilling, put the chicken stock in a pot and bring to a simmer. Also, prepare the tuna steaks by seasoning both sides with salt and pepper.)
In a food processor, add the jalapeno and basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Stream in extra-virgin olive oil and puree until it resembles a consistency slightly thinner than pesto.
Wipe out the food processor to use for the corn. Over a large bowl, carefully cut down each ear of corn, rotating your knife until all the kernels have fallen into the bowl. Reserve a few kernels for the garnish, and put the rest in the food processor and pulse until pureed but still slightly chunky. Season with a pinch of salt.
Now onto the risotto. In a large sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon each butter and oil. When the butter is almost melted, add onions and stir to coat. Season with salt and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Add rice and toast for two minutes. Add stock a ladle at a time, stirring frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed. This usually takes between 20 to 30 minutes. Halfway through the cooking process, add the corn puree to the risotto and season again with salt. Continue until rice is cooked through and tender but still has a bite to it. (You may have stock left over, so be diligent about testing for doneness so you don't overcook the rice.)
About the same time you add the corn, heat the same grill pan you used earlier over high heat. Add a small amount of oil and when it starts to shimmer, add the tuna steaks. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side so that inside is rare. Rest on a cutting board for a few minutes, then thinly slice just before serving.
To finish the risotto, turn off the heat and quickly add the remaining tablespoon of butter and a handful of grated Parmesan cheese. Stir vigorously until the butter is nearly melted. Serve immediately with slices of tuna and a drizzle of the jalapeno-basil oil.