jessica battilana's corn risotto
Risotto, at baseline, is already pure comfort food. It’s salty and cheesy and creamy. The rice is melty and nutty. But there’s something about adding corn to it that makes it so much more comforting. It might be that corn has such a homey character of its own, or it might be by contrast: The sweetness and lightness and pop of the corn balances the salty richness of everything else.
This recipe comes from Short Stack Editions Volume 10: Corn, written by food writer and recipe developer Jessica Battilana. The recipe was reprinted in The New York Times in 2014 and has a perfect, five-star rating from readers. As written, making corn stock for the risotto is optional (chicken stock can be used instead). But Jessica’s stock is so light and subtle—so elemental and transformative in this dish—I’m basically making it a requirement. Same with the addition of chives. The other part of this recipe that makes this risotto so good is a trick Jessica attributes to restaurateur Barbara Lynch. Just before serving, cream is whipped to stiff peaks and folded into the risotto to make it light and cloud-like.
Jessica Battilana’s Corn Risotto
No changes, except I made the corn stock and chives non-optional (see above). The corn stock takes about 30 unattended minutes; substitute chicken stock if pressed for time. Add the whipped cream quickly and gently, just before serving. If it sits in the warm risotto too long, it will melt (this happened in my photo). But, guess what? It’ll still be delicious.
Serves 4 (or 2 people who eat like me).
2 corn cobs (kernels removed and reserved for risotto)
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
Dark green leaves from 1 leek (white and light green parts reserved for risotto)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
6 cups corn stock (see recipe above)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups raw corn kernels (from about 2 ears corn)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced chives (optional)
MAKE CORN STOCK:
Combine all ingredients with 6 cups water in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat so liquid is simmering; cover pot and let simmer for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Add enough water to bring liquid up to 6 cups.
Bring the corn stock to a simmer in a saucepan and keep it simmering as you prepare the risotto.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide, high-sided sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains look slightly translucent.
Pour in wine and cook, stirring, until it has all been absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add a ladleful of hot corn stock to the rice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until rice has absorbed all of the stock. Continue cooking, adding ladlefuls of stock whenever rice mixture looks dry and stirring continuously. When half the stock has been added, stir in corn. Continue cooking until all of the stock is incorporated, corn is tender and rice is creamy and tender, about 30 to 40 minutes total.
Remove risotto from heat and stir in Parmesan and remaining tablespoon of butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat cream at high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Uncover risotto, stir vigorously and season to taste with salt and pepper. Immediately before serving, stir in the chives, if using, then gently fold in cream.