sweet corn risotto

corn on the cob

There’s something mysterious about a cob of corn in its husk.

At first it feels smooth and compact. You have to tug on those tough papery sheaths to reveal the gold kernels. It’s surprising how hard you have to pull — halfway through, I’m thinking, this prize better be worth it.

And then there are the silky threads barring your way from eating. Silky sounds lovely, doesn’t it? It sounds like clean-washed hair and expensive sheets and the purr of someone’s beloved voice in the dark. Well let me tell you, these silky threads are nothing like those. Those buggers cling to the kernels like a kid to her mama’s leg when she doesn’t want to go to school. (And without any of the endearing cuteness, either.) Sure, you can shred a big fistful of them away from your corn quickly, but the rest nit and pick and sit there without your fingers being able to budge them. This is my least favorite part.

After that’s over, however, there is corn. Sweet, tender corn.

Suddenly, it’s summer.

p.s. I have to tell you this, although it has little to do with the wonder of corn. When we were in our late teens, my brother and Sharon and I used to make these ridiculous little films with a big video camera. One summer, we made up a mock-mystery about the death of the member of a popular band. (She died when someone viciously threw a Jujubees box at her head. Yeah, you get the sense how good these films were.) All I really remember of this film is that the band’s biggest hit was called Hot Buttered Corn!

Sharon and I must have sung that phrase into a shared microphone 28 times until Andy had the shot he wanted. We cracked up most of those takes. And now, whenever I cook corn kernels in brown butter on the stove, adding basil or chives at the end, plus a pinch of sea salt, the entire time I am stirring I am thinking Hot Buttered Corn!

This post is part of the community blogging event called Summer Fest 2010. Would you like more recipes for corn? Take a look at these:

This Week’s Corn Links

So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.

Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:

Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.

The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. Yes, copy and paste them everywhere! That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.

Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites.com).

The 2010 Schedule:

  • Wednesday, August 4: CORN.
  • Wednesday, August 11: HERBS-BEANS-AND-GREENS WEEK (any one or both/all, your choice).
  • Wednesday, August 18: STONE FRUIT.
  • Wednesday, August 25: TOMATO WEEK. How do you like them love apples?
  • And then…more, more, more if you want it (potatoes? sweet potatoes? root veggies? winter squash?). You name it.

Join in! It’s corn!

sweet corn risotto

Sweet Corn Risotto

Corn and risotto go together like fuzzy sweaters and foggy mornings, like hot coffee and cold cream, like clean sheets and bare feet. There’s comfort in the softness of the rice, plus the surprise of the warm corn kernels popping against your teeth. Slightly sweet from ripeness, salty and filled with the warmth of garlic and thyme, this risotto makes the mouth happy.

And then it’s gone, quickly.

Don’t be intimidated by the process of making corn stock. It sounds complicated. It’s not. Mostly, you throw husks and cobs into a big pot of water and wait for it to simmer into flavor. This way, you use every part of the corn. This time of year, you don’t want to miss a thing.

5 ears corn
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
6 large sprigs fresh thyme

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups corn kernels (or whatever you have left after slicing them from the cob)
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1 quart corn stock
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Shucking the corn
. Remove the husks and hair from the corncobs, but do not discard the husks. Slice the kernels from the corncobs, but do not discard the cobs.

Making the stock. Set a large saucepan over medium-high heat and pour in the oil. Add the onion and garlic to the oil and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the corn husks, the cobs, and the thyme. Cover with 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the stock.

Starting the risotto. Set a large saucepan over medium heat and pour in 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter. Add the corn kernels to the hot oil and butter and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and release their fragrance, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for 1 minute more.

Coating the rice. Toss in the Arborio rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the grains are entirely coated, about 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook, pushing the rice slowly in the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half its volume, about 5 minutes.

Adding the stock. At this point, pour the corn stock into the rice, 1 cup at a time, stirring gently. Stir and stir until the stock is absorbed into the rice. When the liquid is absorbed, but not dry, add more stock. Continue this process until all the stock is absorbed.

(You can use any leftover corn stock for other soups or foods where you need stock.)

Making the risotto creamy. Taste the rice. It should have no crunch to it. Instead, it should be chewy and soft, without being mushy. Taste the risotto and season with salt and pepper. Taste again. Toss in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and the Parmesan cheese. Stir gently until everything is fully incorporated. Place the lid on the saucepan and allow the risotto to sit, covered, for 2 minutes, which will make the risotto beautifully creamy.

Feeds 4.

49 comments on “sweet corn risotto

  1. Green Acres in the City

    We had sweet corn last night that I picked in the morning. MmMm. This sounds great!

  2. vanilla143

    This sounds wonderful. But I guess I am just not willing to go to that much effort for just me. You do make me … wish I liked to cook… And food that loves me back would be really nice. Thank you for sharing your "kitchen" with me.

  3. Jennifer Jo

    Corn, corn, corn! Love the stuff! (That first picture is beautiful.)

    I just posted a recipe for Indian-Style Corn. It made my lunch AND my day.

  4. Nancy

    Hello Shauna!!

    Wow, I am having the best time with Summerfest 2010 – great recipes and great stories which are bringing back lots of fond memories !!! Here is my contribution to the party Corn, Crab and Tomato Salad
    PS – I really love your tweets about Lu – always brings a smile to my face!!

  5. alanachernila

    Hoorah for corn stock! I'm thinking this might be the makings of the most wonderful corn chowder…

  6. Linda

    I once heard a band that called themselves Cornbread. One of the band members, a woman, handed out pieces of cornbread. Thinking about it now I wonder what they put in it.

  7. Jennie

    Sweet corn risotto is one of my all-time favorites. I freeze fresh-scraped kernels so we can enjoy it in the winter too. And those leftover cobs are good for making ice cream, as well as stock. I'm throwing some sweet corn & lemon thyme ice cream into this mix this week, along with a gluten-free and creamless corn chowder!


  8. Bear and Bones Mama

    Oh my Shauna, this looks truly delish. I am salivating. We just got corn in our CSA last night. Thank you, and if you weren't already married to a super guy I'd be proposing… even tho I am married to a super guy too. My 5 yo son loves risotto – especially at breakfast. made in a slow cooker overnight with apples and cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves and cream and brown sugar and some juice. heaven!

  9. Anonymous

    Joe's Garden Corn and Green Bean Salad (Joe's Garden is a mostly no-spray veggie place in Bellingham, WA, and I use their produce for this)

    3 ears sweet corn
    1 lb. green beans-regular or Romano
    1/2 a sweet red pepper, medium chop, or 1/2 C. pickled peppers, chopped
    1 large clove garlic, crushed
    1/4 C. fresh basil, shiffonaded
    2 T. olive oil
    3 T. balsamic vinegar
    salt and pepper to taste.

    Steam the corn and beans just enough for them to be crisp-tender. Cool rapidly in cold water. Cut the beans into 1/2 inch chunks, and strip the corn from the cobs.

    Stir all the ingredients together in a big bowl. Beautiful, and tasty! Eat within a couple of days, or it gets weird looking, though not weird tasting.

  10. Anna

    Wow — corn stock! I can't believe I've never thought of using the cobs, too, just cutting the kernels off. Can't wait to try it.

  11. Jennie

    A very gentle scrubbing with a vegetable brush will get those last corn silks right out. I'm definitely trying this recipe!

  12. marla {family fresh cooking}

    A few nods to fresh sheets in this post and I feel like I need to go do some laundry! Wish I could hear that "Hot Buttered Corn" song. Hilarious!! your risotto looks creamy, satisfying & delish!

    Here is my Strawberry, Roasted Corn & Avocado Salsa for Summer Fest:


  13. Tianna

    I read this while systematically annihilating an ear of corn, stone cold but delicious, at my desk at work. Now I wish I had at *least* 2 more ears!!

  14. A Finley

    I can't wait to try this risotto. I am very new to the risottos, but getting my celiac diagnosis a year ago made me look at many new foods, and risottos are my favorites!

  15. kristi @ sproutsinthekitchen

    now I'm hungry. luckily, i've got all the fixins for your risotto in my kitchen.

    I've been making this Corn and Tomato Gratin I found on Epicurious (Gourmet 2006) for the last 3 years. It's one of those dishes I dream about for months before the tomatoes and corn are ready. Corn, thick-sliced tomatoes, cream, basil, parmesan, and topped with breadcrumbs, but I'm sure you could whip up an easy GF alternative–you have to try this!


  16. Andrea

    oh my goodness I love love love the top corn photo. gorgeousness. it was so nice chatting photography with you, its more photo-ness than I've had in my brain in several months and it felt really nice! Your photos are looking amazing and I can't wait to see what you shoot next.

  17. Deirdre

    I read this recipe on Friday and got the corn on Saturday morning. I made this on Saturday night and it was delicious. A birthday dinner for my husband, and my first risotto, too! Your instructions were so clear that I knew just what to expect. I'm not your usual commenter because I am not celiac and I am a vegetarian (and you guys love your meat!), but this recipe shows that good food is good food! Thanks

  18. Anonymous

    I wanted to pass on…we have Italian relatives, so eat a LOT of really good risotto when we visit them. (We eat a lot in between visits, too!) My husband became a vegan a couple of years ago, and we have found that adding about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Tofutti to the risotto at the end instead of parmesan, achieves that creaminess that you get from the cheese. Haven't tried any Daiya yet. But it might get it, too.

  19. Chef Fresco

    We've been definitely soaking up our fair share of corn this summer. This risotto looks delicious!

  20. Angie

    Oh my God, Shauna! This is an amazing recipe! I made it tonight and my most pickiest of picky eaters (husband and daughter) *gobbled* it up! Yummy yummy 🙂

  21. Glo S.

    Yummy, can't wait to try it! Sweet corn makes the most perfect summer soup. I've been growing some in my garden… now I know how I'm going to use it!

  22. Summer

    I made this with brown rice which made it not risotto but the the flavors were great. I wouldn’t normally spend all that time to make corn stock, I’m so glad I did!

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