portobello mushrooms, stems/gills removed, cleaned and sliced thinly
6 - 8 cups
ears, sweet corn, shucked
unsalted butter, divided
medium-sized shallots, minced
cloves of garlic, minced or grated
red chile flake
risotto rice (Carnaroli, Arborio or Vialone Nano)
dry white wine
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for service
coarsely chopped, fresh tarragon, plus more for service
In This Recipe
Add the ¼ c. vegetable oil to a large heavy-bottomed dutch oven and scatter in the sliced portobellos. Turn the heat to medium and cook the mushrooms, slowly, turning often, until they are evenly crisp around the edges. Transfer the mushrooms to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Pour out all of the oil in the pan, leaving any brown bits in the bottom.
Preheat your oven's broiler, or a grill, to high heat. Place the corn cobs on a plate or in a bowl and drizzle on enough oil to evenly coat each ear. Place under your broiler or on the preheated grill, and cook, turning the ears with tongs to char each side. This could take up to 10 minutes, depending on your preference and the strength of your appliance. Allow the cobs to cool enough to handle. Cut the stems off each corn cob to make a flat base, stand upright in the middle of a large plate or bowl and, using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the kernels from the cob. Its important, for flavor and texture, to only cut the yellow kernels (not the white pith) from the cob. Season the kernels with a pinch of salt and set aside. Break or cut the cobs in half and place in a large saucepan. Cover them with 6 c. water and set the pan over medium-high heat. Once the water reaches a simmer, decrease the heat enough to maintain a gentle bubble.
Heat the pan you used to crisp the mushrooms over medium heat and add 3 T. butter. Once the butter has melted (I like to let it brown just slightly), add the shallot, season with a healthy pinch of salt and sauté until just softened, using a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the bits from the mushrooms. Add the garlic and a pinch (or more) of red chile flake and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Dump in the rice and toss frequently, cooking until lightly toasted, 2 - 3 minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir constantly, allowing the rice to absorb the wine almost completely. Using a ladle, add about 2 c. of the corn stock to the rice, stirring constantly until it too has absorbed almost completely. Maintain a gentle, but constant simmer on the rice, To test whether risotto needs more liquid, I drag the spoon through the rice to the very bottom of the pan. If the line holds for a couple seconds, I add another ½ c. or so of the liquid. Continue adding the liquid, stirring frequently, until the rice is al dente. If you run out of liquid in the pot, or you notice you're running low and your rice isn't close to proper doneness, add more water to the stock pan, trying to keep it as warm as you can.
When the rice has a pleasant toothsome bite, fold in the reserved corn kernels to heat through for 30 seconds or so. Remove the pan from heat and check for seasoning and consistency. If the rice is done, but the dish is stiff and thick, add another ¼ - ? c. liquid, to form a nice, stew-like consistency (risotto should puddle when spooned onto a plate, not plop). Add the remaining 3 T. butter and the cheese all at once and, with all the confidence in the world, stir the rice vigorously with the spoon, shaking the pan back and forth a bit. This is what the Italian call the "mantecatura", and it will leave you with a risotto of unrivaled silkiness.
Fold in the fresh tarragon, top with the crispy mushrooms and check for seasoning one last time and serve immediately, risotto waits for nobody. Pass more Parmigiano and tarragon and enjoy.