Sweet Corn Risotto

If you love corn, this is the dish you’ve been waiting for….

ingredients for sweet corn risotto

Risotto is a dish I avoided learning to cook for years because cookbooks and chefs like to scare the life out of you when it comes to risotto. 

“If you step away from the stove, it will be ruined!”

“Your using the wrong rice! Aaauggghhh!”

“Only great chefs can cook risotto! You’ll never get it right!”

As a Brit friend of mine says: “Bollucks”

When I finally tried my hand at risotto, I was surprised by how easy it was, particularly with a little prep. But even without much prep, risotto is a dish you can wing easily as long as you have the staples. I’ve thrown it together last minute more than a few times, even after, um, you know, the cocktail hour.

As my Brit friend also likes to say: “You just can’t f–k this up.”

Another wonderful aspect of risotto is how many different ways you can prepare it, with dozens and dozens of variations. Once you get the basics down, you can flavor it with whatever spices or vegetables and/or meats you have on hand. For a classic risotto, all you really need along with the rice is a little onion, a little wine, some good broth and some cheese. Then you can start adding your favorites: Mushroom Risotto, Lemon Risotto, Spring Vegetable Risotto, Roasted Tomato Risotto, Risotto with Bolognese… the list goes on and on. 

AND you can make risotto with a variety of grains, not just rice… barley or couscous or wheat berries, for instance, or, as with my previously posted Winter risotto, farro (a huge favorite of mine.)

As we end summer and enter fall, one of my favorite vegetables, corn, is everywhere. Fresh and sweet and so so good, I love using corn in a variety of ways, often raw as in my No-Cook Farmer’s Market Pasta or my Raw Vegetable Salad. Risotto, however, is my favorite way to use fresh corn, particularly if you take a little time and make a corn broth to ramp up the corn goodness. 

With fresh corn and fresh herbs, you will love Sweet Corn Risotto.



Take 3 cobs of corn and with a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the cob into a bowl. Then slide the knife down the bare cob a few times to get as much of the corn ‘milk’ as possible in with the corn.

Put the corn cobs in a pot with 4-6 quarts of water, a bunch of marjoram stems with leaves, and some black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then let simmer 30 minutes or so (an hour is better if you have time) to make your corn broth. Strain and return the broth to the pot and keep warm.

While the broth cooks, add a little olive oil to a skillet and sauté the corn, some chopped fresh marjoram from 6-8 stalks, half the diced shallot and salt and pepper. You don’t want to cook the corn all the way through, just soften it a bit and get the shallot soft (you can add the shallot first if you want it really soft.) Remove from the heat.

In a medium sized pot, add a couple of glugs of olive oil. Sauté the rest of the diced shallots over medium heat for a few minutes until soft. Add 2 cups of Arborio Rice. Sauté the rice, stirring constantly, to crisp up the rice just a touch.

Add either the dry vermouth (my favorite) or a dry white wine and bring to a light boil. Cook until the wine is reduced quite a bit, almost gone.

Now start adding the corn broth a ladleful or two at a time until the broth is above the rice. Stir. Cook the rice at a gentle simmer, keeping the level of the broth just above the rice at all times. Cook the risotto, stirring occasionally, adding broth when it gets to the level of the rice, until the rice is almost finished (you must taste to be sure!) This generally takes about 20 minutes.

When the rice is just about at the consistency you like but needs a minute or two more (if you go over, all will be well) and when the broth is mostly absorbed into the rice (you will probably have extra broth on the side, which freezes great), add to the risotto:

– the corn saute
– 2 T butter
– the pecorino cheese 
– Salt and cracked black pepper
– A little chopped Italian parsley (optional)

Stir well, remove from heat and cover for 3-5 minutes. Remove the cover, stir one last time… and eat!

This is really wonderful and tastes of fresh corn, fresh herbs and and the end of summer.

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